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Controlling Your Diabetes Previous Page

doctor Whether you've just found out that you have diabetes or have lived with diabetes for a while, you may wish to do more to take care of yourself.

Here are four key steps to help you control your diabetes and live a long and active life:

1. Learn about diabetes
2. Know your diabetes ABCs
3. Manage your diabetes
4. Get routine care to avoid problems

Diabetes is a serious disease. It affects almost every part of the body. That is why a team of people may help you take care of your diabetes:

  • doctors
  • dieticians
  • dentists
  • diabetes educators
  • eye and foot doctors
  • mental health and social workers
  • nurses
  • pharmacists
  • friends and family

Talk to your health care team about your special needs work with your team to manage your diabetes.

Select a Step for controlling your diabetes below for more information

Step 1: Learn about diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious disease. Ask your health care team what type of diabetes you have. Terms such as "a touch of diabetes" or "your sugar is a little high" suggest that diabetes is not a serious disease. That is not correct and these terms should not be used. Know why diabetes is serious.

All people with diabetes need to eat healthy foods, stay at a healthy weight, and be active every day. Taking good care of diabetes will help you feel better and avoid the health problems diabetes can cause such as:

  • heart disease and stroke.
  • eye disease that can lead to vision problems or even going blind.
  • nerve damage that can cause your hands and feet to feel numb. This can lead to loss of a foot or a leg.
  • kidney problems.
  • gum disease and loss of teeth.

When your diabetes is in good control, you are more likely to feel better and

  • be less tired and thirsty and urinate less often.
  • heal better and have fewer gum, skin, or bladder infections .
  • be less likely to have blurry vision or numb hands or feet.

Step 2: Know Your Diabetes ABCs .

Manage your A 1C (blood glucose or sugar), blood pressure, and cholesterol. This will help lower your chances of having a heart attack, a stroke, or other diabetes problems. These are called the ABCs of diabetes.

  • A is for the A1C test
    It shows how well your blood glucose has been controlled over the last 3 months. It should be checked at least twice a year. The goal for most people is less than 7. High blood glucose levels can harm your kidneys, feet, and eyes.
  • B is for blood pressure
    The goal for most people is 130/80. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. It can cause heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
  • C is for cholesterol
    The LDL goal for most people is less than 100. Bad cholesterol, or LDL, can build up and clog your blood vessels. It can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

Ask your health care team:

  • What are my A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers?
  • What should my ABC numbers be?

Use My Diabetes Care Card to write down your numbers.

Step 3: Manage Your Diabetes

Many people avoid the long-term problems of diabetes by taking good care of themselves and the ABCs of diabetes. Work with your health care team, friends, and family to make healthy lifestyle choices and reach your ABC goals.

  • Follow your diabetes food plan. If you do not have one, ask your health care team about it.
  • Eat the right portions of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables (5 to 9 servings a day), fish, lean meats, dry beans, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese.
  • Eat foods that have less salt and fat.
  • Get 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week.
  • Stay at a healthy weight - by being active and eating the right amounts of healthy foods.
  • Stop smoking - seek help to quit.
  • Take medicines the way your doctor tells you. Ask if you need aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke.
  • Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling. Call your health care team right away about any sores that won't heal.
  • Brush your teeth and floss every day to avoid problems with your mouth, teeth, or gums.
  • Check your blood glucose the way your doctor tells you to.

Work with your health care team to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.

If you have Medicare Part B, ask your health care team how to get some of the cost paid for learning about diabetes self-care, special shoes, if you need them.

Step 4: Get Routine Care to Avoid Problems.

See your health care team at least twice a year to find and treat problems early. Follow this plan.

At each visit get a:

  • Blood pressure check - if over 130/80, ask what steps to take to reach your goal
  • Weight check
  • Foot check

Two times each year get:

  • A1C check - check more often if over 7
  • Dental exams to prevent gum disease and loss of teeth. Tell your dentist you have diabetes.

Once each year get a:

  • Cholesterol check - if LDL over 100, ask what steps to take to reach your goal
  • Dilated eye exam to check for eye problems
  • Complete foot exam to check on foot health
  • Urine and blood tests to check for kidney problems
  • Flu shot

At least once get a:

  • Pneumonia shot
  • Hepatitis B vaccine - should be administered to individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes between the ages of 19-59 years of age

Last Updated: 02-15-2013

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