As we may have known by now that diabetes complications like blindness and amputations are the consequences of high blood sugar over time. They don’t happen suddenly, and they are often difficult to detect until a large amount of damage is done. That’s why this list of seven most useful tips to avoid complications is a valuable tool.
The list is simple and basic, and everything on it is something others have done to make a difference in their outcomes as type 2 diabetics. We live with a chronic condition, and it will wear down our bodies after a while. This list will help you have fewer of those diabetes complications.
Try to become an expert on type 2 diabetes. Diabetes education arms you with an understanding of the complications of diabetes and what to look for. It helps you see the importance of good blood sugar numbers on your hemoglobin A1C. You will know why exercise and a low glycemic diet are so beneficial against type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes education makes the need to stop smoking and watch alcohol intake clear. Diabetics have the same risk of cardiovascular complications as people who have already had a heart attack, and smokers with diabetes are three times more likely to die of heart disease than people without diabetes.
Diabetic complications from drinking alcohol without food or drinking too much won’t surprise you because you understand how alcohol affects blood sugar. Knowing what the risk is, you won’t be thrown into a sudden low blood sugar reaction or experience diabetic coma from alcohol.
Make sure to always keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in the target ranges. Those target ranges are lower for a diabetic. Doctors know this will help you avoid the diabetes complications that affect your heart and blood vessels.
Take the medications that are given to you for blood pressure control and for lowering cholesterol. And because those medicines have side effects, you need to get blood tests done to monitor the effect they may have on your liver and kidneys.
It’s good to know that the same diet and exercise that bring about the type 2 diabetes cure will also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s win-win if you choose to change your lifestyle. Then your doctor can stop the cholesterol and blood pressure meds too.
Know this, yearly eye exams with an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) will protect you from the diabetes complications of retinopathy, macular degeneration and cataracts. Protecting your eyes became a high priority when you developed type 2 diabetes.
You also need yearly physicals because you are diabetic. That is on top of the 90-day checkups you are supposed to be getting. Your doctor knows the symptoms of the common diabetes complications and will help you watch for them this way.
One of the complications your doctor will watch for is the nephropathy that about half of diabetics will develop after many years with type 2 diabetes. A simple urine test for protein (microalbumin) will make it clear whether you have any signs of kidney disease, and save you from dialysis by treating nephropathy early.
Be sure to take care of your teeth. Diabetes takes a toll on your mouth too. Be diligent with brushing and flossing, massaging your gums (I use a WaterPik) and keeping your mouth clean. Watch for bleeding or swelling in your gums that signals gingivitis. And visit your dentist regularly, sooner if you develop signs of gum disease.
Watch your feet. They are often the first part of your body that shows signs of diabetes complications. It makes shoes and socks for diabetics a necessity. Foot pain, tingling and numbness, fungal infections, dry skin and sweaty feet are some of the things you have to deal with.
Find a good podiatrist to visit yearly, and inspect your feet every time you bathe. It’s a daily chore you can’t skip. And learn what to look for in shoes and socks for diabetics. Good diabetic shoes and socks help protect your feet from ulcers and pain.
Use an aspirin a day. This is something your doctor will talk to you about, and he will tell you how much you should take, whether it’s 81 mg or a full size aspirin. Aspirin is a natural blood thinner, and diabetics need it because of our high risk for blood vessel and heart disease. Blood clots are a common result of high blood sugar because it damages blood vessels, and aspirin is the first defense.
Stress is last but not because it isn’t important. Diabetics need to control stress, but it’s an often overlooked consequence of having this chronic condition. Because of what stress does to you, it intensifies and worsens every other diabetes complication. That’s what makes understanding and dealing with stress a number one priority for type 2 diabetics.
There You Have It
There they are, seven ways to help you avoid the diabetes complications that not only make type 2 diabetics miserable but lead to the things we dread. Blindness, amputations and kidney failure are not outcomes of diabetes that you have to accept.
The longer you are diabetic, the more you are at risk for complications in every part of your body, so learn about them early and know how to prevent them. It’s all part of this journey with type 2 diabetes.
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