Categories: Diabetes

4 Steps to manage your Diabetes for Life

Diabetes is a long-standing condition and the leading cause for major complications like heart attacks, paralysis, loss of eyesight, kidney failure, foot infections and gangrene. But these complications can be prevented by properly managing diabetes and related conditions. This can be done by following these 4 steps regularly throughout the life: Diet, lifestyle, medications and Monitoring.

  1. Diet

A healthy diet plays a major role in managing diabetes.  Your Diet plan should be sustainable and help you keep diabetes under control and still makes you feel happy and fed. If you are overweight, a diabetes diet provides a well-organized, nutritious way to lose excess weight safely. A  dietitian can help you put together a diet based on your health needs, tastes and lifestyle. He or she can also talk with you about how to improve your eating habits, such as choosing portion sizes that suit the needs for your activity level. You may follow different approaches to create a diabetes diet to help you achieve glucose control and weight loss. Some examples are Diabetes plate method and carbohydrate counting.

  1. Lifestyle

Being active, getting adequate sleep and quitting tobacco and alcohol play an important role in managing diabetes. Physical exercises help you control blood sugars, blood pressure, cholesterol, contributes to weight loss, improves well-being and make you look better.

You need to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises a week. You can choose from any of the following activities: walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, racket sports or weight training. If you haven’t been active or have a heart condition, it’s important to consult your doctor and start slowly. Also, Prolonged sitting is linked to a greater risk of diabetes, obesity and death. So try to avoid sitting continuously for long hours and keep yourself active throughout the day.

Sleep deprivation is an often overlooked but significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, obesity and increased risk of heart disease. You should get at least 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.

Tobacco (Smoking/oral) or excess alcohol consumption can cause worsening of blood sugars, variations in BP and increase your risk of getting heart/kidney/eye complications.  You should quit tobacco and reduce the alcohol intake to safe levels. If you find it difficult to quit these habits, you can consult a doctor who specializes in deaddiction.

  1. Medications

Some people with diabetes can manage their blood sugars with diet and lifestyle changes alone, but most people require medications in the form of tablets or injections to treat their condition. You should be taking medications which suits your type of diabetes, has less side effects and also improves your kidney/heart/eye conditions. As Diabetes is a progressive condition, It’s common for your medication needs to change over time. You should consult an Endocrinologist or a physician to discuss the available options and decide on the medications which suits you the most. Self-medication can be harmful and increase your risk of developing very high or low sugars.

  1. Monitoring

This involves monitoring the blood sugars, monitoring the associated conditions (blood pressure, cholesterol) and monitoring for the diabetes complications (eye, nerve, kidneys, feet, heart).

Blood sugar monitoring is fundamental to diabetes treatment. It helps you to know your blood glucose levels and understand the effect of diet, exercise and medications on the glucose levels. There are different methods of monitoring glucose levels: lab tests (fasting and after-meal blood glucose), self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) with a glucometer, continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) and HbA1c. Your doctor will let you know how often to check your blood glucose levels. The frequency of testing usually depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan. The HbA1c test gives the estimate of average blood glucose levels over the last 3-4 months. So you should get an HbA1c test done at least once in 6 months and more frequently if the blood glucose is not under control.

Diabetes is a leading cause for loss of eyesight, kidney failure, nerve problems and heart disease and these conditions do not cause any symptoms/discomfort till the final stages of the disease. You can slow down these conditions by identifying these problems early. So get tested for these complications at least once a year and more frequently if the problems have already started.

Dr. Shivaprasad, Consultant – Endocrinology, Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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