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How to Prevent Diabetes Complications

Eye Damage (Diabetic Retinopathy)

To protect your vision, see an eye doctor at least once a year. He should dilate your pupils while you're there. People with type 1 diabetes who are older than 10 should start these visits within 3 to 5 years of diagnosis. If you have type 2 diabetes, make an appointment as soon as you’re diagnosed. If you have problems, you’ll need to go more often. If you get pregnant, schedule a comprehensive exam during the first trimester and a follow-up later in your pregnancy.

For more detail, see Diabetic Retinopathy.

Gastroparesis

Diabetes can damage the nerves that control your stomach so they stop working properly. Known as gastroparesis, this condition causes it to take too long to empty. That makes it hard for you to manage blood sugar levels. Sometimes a change in diet can help. There are medications and other treatments, too.

For more detail, see Gastroparesis and Other Stomach Problems With Diabetes.

Erectile Dysfunction

Diabetes makes men more likely to get erectile dysfunction or become impotent. Sometimes all you need to do is adopt a healthier lifestyle, quit smoking, exercise regularly, and reduce stress. It's important to talk to your doctor about these problems. He can suggest medications or remedies like a vacuum constriction device and other products.

For more detail, see Erectile Dysfunction & Diabetes.

Skin Problems

Many people with diabetes will have a skin condition related to it at some time in their lives. The sugar in your blood provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. It also lowers your body's ability to heal itself. Fortunately, most of these problems can be prevented and treated if caught early on. If you have type 2 diabetes and don’t take care of yourself, a minor scratch could turn into a serious infection.

For more detail, see Skin Problems in Diabetes.

Infection

Type 2 diabetes slows your body's ability to fight infection. High sugar levels in your body's tissues means bacteria grow more easily and infections set in more quickly. Common sites for them are your bladder, kidneys, vagina, gums, feet, and skin. Early treatment can prevent serious complications.

For more detail, see Diabetes and Infection.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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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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