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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes: How to Lower Your Risk of Complications

Don't Smoke

Smoking damages and tightens your blood vessels. It doubles your chances of heart disease and makes nerve damage and eye and kidney problems more likely. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

Ease Stress

"When your body secretes adrenaline, which it does when you're stressed, your blood pressure and blood sugars go up," Cypress says.

Long-term stress can lead to long-term high blood sugar levels.

Cut out any sources of stress you can. Then carve out at least 15 minutes a day to do something that relaxes you. For example, you can:

  • Meditate.
  • Do deep breathing.
  • Pray.
  • Listen to music.
  • Dance.
  • Do stretches.
  • Volunteer.
  • Work at a hobby or craft.

Get Enough Sleep

Too little sleep raises your chances of weight gain and obesity. People who sleep for 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours also seem to have better control of their blood sugar levels.

Check Your Feet

Foot sores that aren't treated can lead to serious infections. You may not feel them right away if high blood sugar damages the nerves or cuts blood flow in your feet.

Check your feet daily, especially between the toes. Look for blisters, broken skin, or warm or red spots. If you have a wound, treat it right away and keep your eye on it. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor if there's no improvement or you see more serious signs of infection.

Take Care of Your Mouth

Diabetes raises your chances of gum disease and infections. Brush well with a soft-bristled brush at least twice a day. Floss at least once a day.

Get Year-Round Care

At least twice a year or more, if your doctor advises it, you should:

  • Get an A1c test to measure your average blood sugar levels over 2 or 3 months.
  • See your dentist for teeth cleaning and a checkup.

At least once a year or more, if your doctor advises it, you should get a:

Stay on top of other vaccines, like tetanus boosters and pneumonia shots, too. And if you’re under age 60 and haven't had a hepatitis B vaccine, get it.

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Reviewed on April 29, 2014

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