According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020, 34.2 million Americans have diabetes. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with this condition, follow the steps listed below to improve the quality of your life, and avoid health problems caused by diabetes in the future.
Step 1: Learn About Diabetes
Talk to your doctor about what type of diabetes you have. Take classes or join a support group to learn more about living with diabetes. Read about diabetes online.
Step 2: Know your ABCs
A: The A1C blood test measures your average blood sugar level over the last three months. The higher your A1C level, the higher your risk of complications.
B: Blood pressure is a measure of the force used by your heart to pump blood around your body. A high BP indicates that your heart is working too hard.
C: LDL or “bad” cholesterol that builds up and clogs your blood vessels can cause a heart attack or stroke.
It’s important to keep a tab on your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers. Ask your health care team what your ABC goals should be and what you can do to reach them.
Step 3: Learn How To Live and Cope with Your Diabetes
Diabetics need to make better food choices, maintain a healthy weight, stay active, and take their medicines even on days they feel good. Here are some more tips to help you manage your condition:
- Stress may elevate your blood sugar levels. Try gardening, taking a walk, meditating, or doing any activity you enjoy to relax.
- Enlist the help of your health care team to make a diabetes meal plan. Pay attention to portion sizes and choose foods that are lower in calories, bad fats, sugar, and salt and high in fiber. Skip the soda.
- Exercising daily, if possible, will help you maintain or get to a healthy weight.
- Do not skip your medication and inform your doctor about any side effects, new symptoms, and sores that do not heal.
- Brush and floss your teeth every day and quit smoking.
- Ask your doctor about how and when to test your blood sugar and keep a record of it.
Step 4: Check-In with Your Health Care Team Regularly
Routine care will help find and treat any problems early. Schedule a cholesterol test, complete foot exam, dental exam, dilated eye exam, urine, and blood test to check for kidney problems at least once a year.
Remember, for your diabetes care plan to work effectively, it’s crucial for you – the most important member of your health care team – to learn to manage your diabetes on a day-to-day basis.