Have you been diagnosed with diabetes recently? Some lifestyle changes are on the cards. You must be extra careful with your health to avoid short-term and long-term complications, which range from mood changes and weakness to heart disease and strokes. The good news is diabetes can be managed—you can live a normal life with just a few minor changes.
Understand what having diabetes means
To get a handle on diabetes, make sure you understand the implications. Your body is producing more glucose than it can process. Said glucose can damage your body’s organs as well as blood vessels if left uncontrolled or unmanaged. Over time, it could cause problems in your heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, gums, and even your feet. The exact impact depends on your personal circumstances and the type of diabetes you have.
Your job is to keep blood glucose to a manageable level. This involves some common-sense stuff such as eating healthy, exercising, and taking medication. It also involves some less-obvious stuff—such as taking extra care of your mouth, skin, and feet, and being more vigilant than ever with your health.
Avoid burdening your body with foods it has difficulty processing, especially sugary snacks. Instead, include foods that are high in fiber and nutrients and low in fat and salt. Plan out your meals and eat at the same time for the best results. Talk to your doctor or dietician for a personalized eating plan, which should cover food choices and quantities.
Get exercising and stay motivated long-term
Exercise is essential to maintaining your health, not to mention it’s your ticket to avoiding long-term complications. When you’re active, it automatically reduces your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels. Furthermore, it is good for your overall health. It puts you in a better mood, boosts your appetite, gives you more energy, and generally makes it easier to function.
Having goals and tracking your progress can help you stay motivated long-term. Find ways to get more movement into your workday. Develop an effective fitness routine with your physician’s help. Lastly, always monitor your health and blood pressure levels at all times—excess exercise can and does raise your blood sugar levels.
Investing in a fitness tracker or smartwatch gadget may be a good idea. Such gadgets not only allow you to track your workout progress but also come with blood pressure monitors and alarm functions to help keep you safe.
Limit alcohol and quit smoking
Drinking alcohol will cause your blood sugar to shoot up. Excessive alcohol consumption, on the other hand, may cause it to drop to an abnormal low. If you must drink, keep it to two servings a day. Smoking is potentially more harmful than alcohol. It increases blood pressure and heart rate, but constricts your blood vessels and increases the build-up of fats. This increases the chance of heart attacks and strokes—which was already a point of concern.
Find a doctor to schedule tests and keep an eye out for problems
Have regular tests and create a long-term health schedule with your doctor’s assistance. Tests will allow you to pick up problems early before they snowball out of control. Some important tests to do are blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cholesterol, kidney, eyes, feet, and oral.
Keep an eye out for potential diabetes-induced problems. Common possible complications and symptoms include:
- Heart: Diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease. Watch out for high blood pressure, excessive cholesterol build-up, and other symptoms of heart ailments.
- Kidneys: Kidney disease (nephropathy) is especially tricky to spot early, as it doesn’t show symptoms early. You will need to undergo regular tests (urine and similar).
- Feet: Diabetes can induce structural foot problems, reduced feeling, ulcers, and retardation in blood supply and nerve function. Check your feet every day. Look for cuts, blisters, corns, and similar changes (like lack of healing). Keep your feet moisturized. Visit a podiatrist regularly for checkups.
- Oral: Tooth decay and gum infections can happen if the diabetes isn’t well-managed. If you spot inflamed, loose teeth, or have an infection, get it checked immediately. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft brush and floss once. Massage the gums to make them stronger.
- Skin: Skin problems and disease may be a possibility. Dryness, cracks, yellow or brown patches, blisters, spots, and infections are symptoms you should watch for. Take care of your skin by maintaining your hygiene, avoiding harmful chemicals, using non-perfumed creams, and avoiding scalding water.
- Sexual dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction or the inability to achieve or maintain an erection is commonly seen in men. Similar dysfunction is also reported in women (research is ongoing). Talk to your doctor for assistance.
In our fast-paced world, it's often difficult to find the time to see a doctor for routine care, let alone for an unexpected illness or injury. However, there's no need to put your health on hold. You can find your doctor online so you can get the care you need without leaving home. Online doctors offer a convenient and affordable way to receive high-quality medical care. You’ll also get access to a larger pool of medical professionals and quickly be able to fill and refill necessary prescriptions.
Look after your mental health
Managing diabetes can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing experience. The chemical imbalances in your body may exacerbate the problem. Be kind to yourself, practice positive thinking, and get help from a therapist if you feel depressed or anxious all the time.
Your immune system may be comprised
Diabetes leads to the retardation in the production of white blood cells (due to the heightened glucose). Also, as mentioned earlier, it affects blood flow and your nerves. All of these factors combined will make you more vulnerable to infection. Furthermore, it may sometimes compromise your immune system (but not always), according to the Chicago Tribune. Practice extra hygiene, if you can.
Take your meds
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you manage your blood sugar levels. Make sure you take your medication on time every day (not everyone does this). If you do miss a medication, make sure you take the next dose and monitor your blood sugar levels in the meantime. Failure to take your medications consistently could cause long-term damage to your body.
Relax and get plenty of sleep
Last, but not least, learn to relax. Anxiety and stress will cause your blood pressure to shoot up. Listen to music, spend time in nature, and meditate to stay in good emotional shape. Get plenty of rest too. Not sleeping enough or sleeping at irregular times affects your glucose levels, which may make your problems worse.
Remember that you’re not alone. Talk to your family and friends if you feel down and ask for help when you need it. Try to build a solid support structure for yourself—having good people around you will keep you motivated and on track with all your health goals. Be responsible for yourself, make your health a priority, find a reputable doctor online, and you will have no trouble managing your condition.
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