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10 strategies for managing diabetes

Around 3.5 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes. About 90% of them have type 2 diabetes, which can be influenced by obesity, diet and lack of exercise.

Here are 10 tips for managing diabetes.

1. Get informed about diabetes

Diabetes is serious. If left unmanaged it can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness and even death. So your first step after being diagnosed is to ask questions and learn as much as you can about:

  • How diabetes is treated
  • How diabetes is managed day to day
  • How diabetes can affect your diet, lifestyle and body

Talk to doctors, nurses, dietitians -- and get answers to the questions that concern you most.

Talk to your friends and family who may be living with diabetes. Join a support group, get online and start reading. The more you know about diabetes, the more control you’ll have.

2. Get care for your diabetes

Your health care team or doctor is your primary resource for getting the care you need to live well with diabetes. Your treatment may include:

Medication. Whether or not you need medication to help treat your diabetes depends on your symptoms, complications, blood sugar and other issues.

Lifestyle changes. There is no “ diabetes diet” to follow. But if you have diabetes, consult a dietitian to learn how food affects your blood sugar. Talk with your GP or diabetes nurse about weight loss if you're overweight and how to safely incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

Monitoring your diabetes. Your diabetes healthcare team can teach you how to monitor your blood sugar and show you what to do to avoid highs and lows.

3. Track your diabetes numbers

Diabetes increases your risk of conditions that may affect your eyes, nerves, heart, teeth and more. This is why you may want to keep track of your diabetes numbers.

HbA1c. This test measures your average blood sugar over the last 6 to 12 weeks. Your target will be set with your diabetes team to manage your HbA1c without risking low blood sugar.

Blood pressure. If you have diabetes, you are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to other serious conditions. To be certain that your blood pressure is at a healthy level, have it checked at least annually and more frequently if advised to do so.

Cholesterol. Having diabetes can also put you at risk of high cholesterol - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Be sure to have your cholesterol checked ( fasting lipid profile) at least once every year.

4. Learn how to manage your diabetes

Once you know more about living with diabetes, it’s important to put that knowledge into practice. A healthy lifestyle with diabetes includes:

  • Seeing your doctor or nurse as often as advised
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Seeing your dentist as often as advised
  • Not smoking
  • Getting eye and foot check-ups every year or more often if advised to do so

 

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