Control Your Diabetes. For Life.

Tips for Feeling Better and Staying Healthy

 

 

Taking control of diabetes has many benefits.  Keeping blood sugar levels normal or close to normal can make a big difference now and in the future for people with diabetes.

 

In the short run, people with diabetes who take control will:

 

        Feel better.

        Stay healthy.

        Have more energy.

        Prevent the signs and symptoms of high blood sugar such as:

feeling very thirsty and tired;

urinating often;

losing a lot of weight;

having blurred vision; and

having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal.

 

 

In the long run, people with diabetes who take control will:

 

        Lower their chances of having diabetes problems such as eye disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.  People with diabetes who keep their blood sugar levels normal or close to normal for life are predicted to gain, on average:

5 extra years of life;

8 more years of eyesight;

6 years free from kidney disease; and

6 years free from amputations and nerve damage.

        Enjoy a better quality of life.

 

 


Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers . . . 2 Tests to Measure Blood Sugar Control

 

To control your diabetes, you must know your blood sugar (also called blood glucose) numbers.  Regular testing can help you track your blood sugar numbers to see if they stay close to normal or go up and down.  Testing your blood sugar helps you see how well you are balancing your food intake, physical activity, medicine, and stress.  Itís the only way to know for sure whether you are controlling your diabetes.  If your blood sugar levels are too high or too low, you need to work with your health care provider to change your treatment plan and reach your target level of control.  

 

There are two types of blood sugar tests to manage your diabetes.  One is the hemoglobin A1c test (also called H-b-A-one-c), which is given by a health care provider.  It measures the average amount of sugar in your blood over an extended period of time.  The other is a finger-stick test you can do yourself using a blood glucose meter to measure your blood sugar at the time of the test.  Together, these tests give a complete picture of blood sugar control.

 

The Hemoglobin A1c Test

 

The hemoglobin A1c is a laboratory blood test that all people with diabetes should have on a regular basis.  The test shows your average blood sugar level over the past 3 months.  The test is conducted by taking a small amount of blood and measuring the amount of sugar attached to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells.  Results are given in percentages.

 

If your results show that your blood sugar is normal or close to normal and stable, you should have the hemoglobin A1c test at least twice a year.  If your treatment changes (for example, you start taking a new medicine or change your diet) or if your blood sugar stays too high, you should get the test every 3 months until your blood sugar level improves.

 

Hemoglobin A1c Testing Goal

 

The hemoglobin A1c goal for people with diabetes is less than 7 percent.  But, if you can lower your hemoglobin A1c number by any amount, you will improve your chances of staying healthy.  A change in treatment is almost always needed if the hemoglobin A1c is over 8 percent. 

 

Tips for Getting the Hemoglobin A1c Test

 

        See your health care provider for a hemoglobin A1c test at least two times a year.

        Ask your health care provider to explain your test result and to help you set a hemoglobin A1c goal.

        Keep a record of your hemoglobin A1c test results.

        If your test result is too high or too low, talk to your health care provider about how to improve it.

 

The Finger-stick Test Using a Blood Glucose Meter

 

You can check changes in your blood sugar by doing a finger-stick test using a blood glucose meter.  This test tells you the level of sugar in your blood at the time of the test.  Results are given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).

 

Finger-stick Testing

 

Ask your health care provider about the best blood sugar goal for you.  Ideal finger-stick testing goals for people with diabetes are:

 

Before meals:                80-120 mg/dl

At Bedtime:                  100-140 mg/dl

 

Tips for Finger-stick Testing

 

        Ask your health care provider how, when, and how often to test your blood sugar.

        Keep a record of your blood sugar tests.  Write down each blood sugar reading and the date and time you took it.

        Ask your health care provider to review your record and to help you set finger-stick testing blood sugar goals.

        Use the record of your blood sugar readings to decide how to manage your diabetes day by day.

        If your blood sugar numbers are too high or too low, talk with your health care provider about ways to improve them.

 


Reach Your Blood Sugar Goal . . . Tips to Control Blood Sugar

 

People with diabetes can do a lot to reach their blood sugar goal.  Those who use these tips to make healthy lifestyle choices can look forward to enjoying a much better quality of life.

 

To Start

 

  • Test your blood sugar.  Ask your health care provider when and how often.
  • Keep a record of your blood tests, medicines, and daily events.  Review the record with your health care provider.
  • Take your diabetes medicine as prescribed.  Your medicine plan should make you feel better and fit your lifestyle.
  • Eat foods that are low in fat, salt, and sugar and high in fiber to control your blood sugar.  Eat about the same number of calories each day, choose a variety of foods, and never skip meals.  See a dietitian to create a meal plan that is right for you.
  • Get physical activity.  Check with your health care provider before you begin an exercise program.  If you havenít been active, start slowly.  Good activities are walking and swimming.
  • Check your feet for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling that can result from diabetes-related nerve damage.  Call your health care provider right away about any sores that wonít heal.  If you prevent problems such as foot ulcers, you can greatly reduce your risk of amputation.

 

To Keep in Mind Along the Way

 

  • Stay at a weight that is right for you.  Ask your health care provider what you should weigh.  Be more active and eat foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, grains and cereals, low-fat dairy foods, and lean meats, chicken, and fish.
  • Treat low blood sugar quickly with special tablets or gel made of glucose.
  • Donít smoke.  Smoking damages your heart and circulatory system, which can lead to heart disease and poor circulation for people with diabetes.  Talk to your health care provider about ways to quit.
  • Manage stress.  Talk with a trusted friend, take up a hobby, make time for physical activity, and take 1 day at a time.  Talk to your health care provider about how to handle stress.
  • Learn more about diabetes and diabetes self-care.  Ask your health care provider to suggest a dietitian and a diabetes educator to help you manage your diabetes.  In 1998, people with diabetes who have Medicare insurance will begin receiving benefits for diabetes education services.
  • Seek support from family and friends or join a diabetes support group to help you gain control.  Call your local hospital or health department to find a support group.

 

 
 
To Do With Your Health Care Providers

 

  • Write down your questions and take them with you to each visit.
  • Ask for a hemoglobin A1c test at least twice a year if your blood sugar is normal or close to normal and stable.  If your blood sugar levels are too high or too low, work with your health care provider to change your treatment plan and reach your target level of control.  The hemoglobin A1c goal for people with diabetes is less than 7 percent.
  • Ask for regular blood pressure checks, cholesterol tests, and other blood fat tests.  Getting these tests can help your health care provider diagnose and treat problems early and refer you to a specialist if needed.
  • At least once a year, have a dilated eye exam to check for eye disease, a foot exam to check circulation and nerves, and a urine test to check kidney function.  Your health care providers are trained to find small problems and prevent them from turning into big ones.
  • See your dentist at least twice a year.  Tell your dentist you have diabetes.  Getting regular dental check-ups is the best way to prevent gum and teeth problems when you have diabetes.

 

Everyone with diabetes shares a common goal Ė to gain control of their blood sugar.  There is no single, clear, and simple path to follow.  People with diabetes should work with a health care provider to find the individual treatment program that works best for them.  The good news is that people with diabetes can reach their blood sugar goals.  And for these people, it makes a big difference in feeling better and staying healthy. 

 


Keep Your Blood Sugar Under Control . . . Tips to Maintain Blood Sugar Control

 

Keeping blood sugar under control takes a lot of effort, but itís a challenge that can be met.   These tips can help people with diabetes stick with their self-care goals and manage setbacks.

 

Set Goals You Can Reach

 

  • Break a big goal into small steps.  If you plan to increase your physical activity, start by taking one 5-minute walk three times a week.  Then try walking longer or more often.
  • Make changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life.  If you want to lose weight and keep it off, be active and limit portion sizes.  Donít just go on a ďdiet.Ē

 

Create a Plan to Deal With Diabetes

 

  • Think about all your reasons for keeping your blood sugar under control.  Make a list and post it where you see it often.  Common reasons include feeling better, staying healthy, and reducing the risk of long-term diabetes problems.
  • Figure out what can tempt you to slip up when it comes to blood sugar control.  Typical reasons for slipping up include working under stress, feeling blue, dealing with family pressures, dining out, and traveling away from home.  Decide now how you will handle these events next time.
  • Reward yourself for staying in control. Rent a movie, buy a plant, or spend time with a friend. 
  • Put a positive spin on your diabetes care.  Think of your self-care plan as a good guide for anyone who wants to be healthy and fit.
  • Make time to relax.  Take a few deep breaths to help ease tension and stress.  Set aside a few minutes each day to close your eyes and relax all your muscles.
  • Ask for a little help from friends and family when youíre down or need someone to talk to.  Make it a habit to call someone to ďcheck inĒ and report on your progress.

 

Manage Setbacks

 

  • Admit that youíve slipped.  Learn what you can from it.

        Donít be too hard on yourself.  A setback is not the end of the world.