Last Updated on February 28, 2021 by Matt Schmidt
Photo by Matt Chesin via Unsplash
More people than ever before have diabetes, and the number of undiagnosed people is also rising. Type 2 diabetes is now considered one of the most common long-term health conditions, but help is available for people trying to manage their condition. There are various services and checks available to help you manage your diabetes. This article discusses the various steps diabetics should take to ensure they are in control of their condition. Many of the checks are vital if you’re going to reduce the risk of complications such as having problems with your feet or losing your eyesight.
HbA1c or Blood Glucose Test
You should have your average blood glucose levels tested by a professional at least once a year. High levels of blood sugars could result in damaged blood vessels. Such a condition puts you at risk of serious diabetes complications. You can keep a check of your blood glucose levels at home using a flash glucose monitor or with finger-prick tests.
Blood Pressure Check
The risk of complications from high blood pressure is greater for diabetics. The difficulties might include kidney disease, severe eye damage and heart problems. The reason for this is that high blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, which means they struggle to function correctly.
You should have your blood pressure professionally measured at least once a year. It will also help you to know what you can do to reduce the levels. A few suggestions include a healthy diet, keeping an eye on your weight, exercising more or taking medication prescribed by your doctor.
Check for Blood Fats/Cholesterol
You can also reduce the risk of complications by keeping control of your cholesterol. Too much cholesterol is not suitable for you because it can block your blood vessels. If your blood vessels are blocked it means your blood cannot get to the critical organs in your body, such as your heart. You should have your cholesterol checked at least once a year by a healthcare professional. They will analyse your situation and offer advice on reducing your cholesterol.
Check on Your Legs and Feet
If you’ve got diabetes, the risk of developing problems with your feet and legs is much higher. If you develop a problem and don’t get treatment, you risk amputation. An annual foot check is one of the healthcare essentials you don’t want to miss out on. You should also make a point of checking your feet every day. Report any changes in your feet to a healthcare professional immediately.
More than 30% of people with diabetes develop serious kidney problems. If you have high blood pressure and your blood sugar levels are high, it can damage your kidneys’ blood vessels, which means they cannot work correctly. Problems with your kidneys are not easy to spot, which is why it’s essential to go for your annual kidney check.
The risk of severe eye damage is high if you have diabetes. When your blood sugar levels are high, they can cause damage to the blood vessels in your eyes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of sight loss, but it is preventable. Retinopathy is very common amongst the Diabetes community.
Make sure you have your eyes screened every year. Your healthcare team will be able to spot any problems early enough to treat them. It is worth pointing out that there are other factors that can increase the risk of developing eye disease that are not related to diabetes. Smoking is another leading cause of eye disease, yet another reason to stop smoking as soon as possible.
Psychological and Emotional Support
Being a person with Diabetes can be challenging, and at times you are going to feel confused, angry and even depressed. Life for a diabetic can be a bit of a roller coaster, so it’s good to know that emotional and psychological support is available when you need it. Your first port of call should be a doctor or nurse. They will refer you to a specialist psychologist if needed. Don’t forget that you’ve also got friends and family to talk to and they are bound to want to help if they can. Sometimes, all it takes for you to feel less stressed is having someone to talk to.
When you have diabetes, it is crucial that you eat fewer fatty foods and consume less salt. A healthy diet will help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels at a safe level. You will be pleased to know that you’re eligible to receive advice on your diet from a dietician. Specialist help with your weight is also available should you need it.
People with Diabetes need a specialist healthcare team that comprises of several different specialists. You may need to talk to a dietician or a blood specialist, depending on your needs. Never be afraid to ask a specialist questions, no matter how silly it might seem to you. Many people with Diabetes can benefit from working with an Endocrinologist. Your Diabetes specialist can assist with determining what exact medications your body best responds to.
Help Quitting Smoking
When you’ve got diabetes, you’re already in the high-risk group when it comes to having a stroke or getting heart disease. If you smoke as well, the risk is even higher. Giving up is the best thing you can do, and professional advice is available if you want to quit. Quitting smoking is difficult, but the rewards far outweigh the initial suffering.
Specialist Pregnancy Care
If you’re planning to have a baby, management of your diabetes has to be even stricter. There is far more risk involved with being pregnant if you have diabetes. You should contact your doctor for advice to help you along your journey. Many people are not familiar with how common gestational diabetes can be.
Sexual Problems Support
The risk of sexual problems increases, for both women and men, if they have diabetes. Issues include cystitis and dysfunction. It’s not always easy to talk about such matters, but it is necessary. Diabeteseducator.org has a great ‘tip-sheet’ that provides lots of excellent information. Click here to learn more- Sexul Health Tip-Sheet
When you have diabetes, it’s not something you need to struggle with on your own. Help is always available if you want to live as normal a life as possible.
Author Bio: This article was written by Conor O’Flynn of O’Flynn Medical. Conor has worked with diabetics for over two decades to help them through pregnancy and breastfeeding.