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Diabetes Care: Managing Your Time When You Have Diabetes

Diabetes care can be time-consuming. Here are some tips to help you keep up.
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WebMD Feature

Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care.

"Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."

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Time-Saving Diabetes Care Tips

Kulkarni and other experts shared these tips with WebMD to help you get organized and manage your time while keeping up with all your diabetes care duties.

  • Use a datebook, Palm Pilot, or other scheduling system to write in times for important diabetes care tasks, such as checking your blood sugar, taking medications, exercising, and doctor's appointments.
  • Reinforce your diabetes care schedule by putting up sticky notes or other messages as reminders. "The more reminders around the home or office, the better," Kulkarni says.
  • Keep all your medications, needles, test strips and other supplies in one place in your home. That way, you won't waste time looking for things. And you'll see at a glance which supplies are running low. Don't wait until the last minute to get new supplies.
  • Take a diabetes care "travel kit" whenever you leave the house, not just when you're on vacation. Pack the kit with all of your medical supplies, snacks, and water. Don't forget to include glucose tablets or hard candy in case you have low blood sugar. "Whenever you leave home, you could be caught in a situation where your blood sugar drops, and you're in an emergency situation," says Pamela J. Kelly, a Chicago consultant who has counseled people with diabetes on managing their time.

If you're struggling to manage your diabetes, find a care partner, such as a spouse or friend. "People with diabetes a lot of times will get very sad or depressed. Either they're not managing their diabetes at all, or they're having a tough time because it's a constant struggle," Kelly says. A care partner can help. "They'll understand your situation, your medication, any other diseases you have," Kelly says. "They'll understand what to look for and how to help you."

Doctors' Visits

These days, doctors' visits can be quick, 15-minute sessions. The key to getting the most from your appointment: plan ahead.

  • Write a list of questions and concerns before your visit so you don't forget anything important. Do you have any new symptoms? Have you had trouble with low blood sugar? Do you have questions about foods or medications? Be your own advocate. "You shouldn't take for granted that your provider's going to cover anything," says Andrea Zaldivar, MS, C-ANP, CDE, clinical director at North General Diagnostic and Treatment Center.
  • Bring all of your medications in a bag for your doctor to review. Include your diabetes drugs and those for other health conditions.
  • When you talk with your doctor, mention your top concerns first. Don't save them for last, or you may not have time to address them adequately.
  • Write down what your doctor says so that you can remember the instructions. Or bring a friend or relative to help take notes.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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Normal
70-130
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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