Diabetes Management Page
According to the Mayo Clinic, blood sugar levels are an important part of managing diabetes. Several factors can make your blood sugar levels change, sometimes unexpectedly. Diet and exercise can help manage diabetes but there are times when that is not enough. When blood sugar levels are unmanageable by diet and exercise, insulin may be necessary. When insulin is used, there could be adverse interactions while taking other medications. There are many factors to consider when managing diabetes and a physician-recommended plan is the best place to start.
Recording Glucose Levels, Spikes and Dips
People with diabetes can see a rise in their blood sugar after drinking coffee or any other caffeinated drink. According to Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, every diabetic person can react to food and drinks differently. Record blood sugar levels in a logbook daily. A health care provider may provide a form to fill out and bring back to make further recommendations for managing your blood sugar levels.
Creating a Food Journal
Recording the daily intake of food can help manage diabetes and help the health care provider decide on any recommendations to a diabetic diet. According to Diabetic Living, by noting how foods eaten daily affect one’s blood glucose levels, a good nutritional diet can be adjusted to avoid spikes. The cause of a rise in blood glucose is an individual thing (that’s why one diabetic can eat oatmeal and be fine, while another goes too high), so learning what works is critical to obtaining a healthy diabetic diet.
Ways to Lower/Raise Levels
High blood sugar occurs when the body is not able transport sugar from blood into cells. This can lead to diabetes. According to Web MD, in 2012, 12-percent to 14-percent of U.S. adults had type 2 diabetes and 37-percent to 38-percent were pre-diabetic. This statistic meant that 50-percent of all U.S. adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
A blood sugar reading of 240 is too high, according to Web MD. High blood sugar usually comes on slowly. It occurs when an individual does not have enough insulin in their body. High blood sugar will spike if an individual missed taking their diabetes medicine, ate too much, or did not get enough exercise. In addition, medications taken for other health problems may cause high blood sugar. Always communicate with a doctor about all the medications that are being taken.
Hypoglycemia is a low blood sugar reaction that occurs when a person’s blood sugar drops too low. Some well-known causes for hypoglycemia include too much insulin, skipping a meal, delaying a meal, exercising too much and drinking too much alcohol. Medications taken for other health problems can also cause a drop in blood sugar, according to Web MD.
According to Web MD, some symptoms of low blood sugar include feeling shaky, mixed up, unhappy, hungry, tired, irritable, and could even cause a seizure.
How to monitor blood glucose levels
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), if blood sugar levels go unmonitored, an emergency could occur. Talk with a doctor about how often and when you should test your blood sugar. Most people with diabetes need to check their glucose (blood sugar) levels regularly. Manage diabetes with blood glucose monitoring.
Here are some ways to monitor your glucose levels:
- From your finger tip
- Meters that test from other sites
- Continuous glucose monitoring system. Blood sugar levels need to be recorded several times a day or at times recommended by a doctor.
- Many diabetics experience extreme lows and highs in blood glucose levels. It is important to understand how to address the variation in these levels. Mother Nature has a way of disrupting our way of life with hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and other disasters. Having an emergency plan in place is especially important for diabetics.
- Using a blood glucose meter can help better manage diabetes by tracking any fluctuations in your blood glucose level. There are many types of blood glucose meters…from basic models to more advanced meters with multiple features and options. The cost of blood glucose meters and test strips varies, as does the amount insurance will cover. Study all your options before deciding which model to buy.
- Common times to check these levels are before meals, before exercising, before driving and before bedtime.
- Store at least three days of diabetes supplies.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts with emergency kit.
Weight management and physical activity
According to Web MD, for individuals with diabetes who are overweight or obese, moderate weight loss can help improve insulin resistance and glycemic outcomes. Modest weight loss means losing about 5 to 7 percent of your weight. For example, at a weight of 165 pounds, modest weight loss would equate to shedding 8 pounds. Losing this amount of weight may improve how diabetics respond to insulin and overall glucose levels.
Risks for expectant mothers and women planning to have children
Despite many advances in diabetes, babies born to diabetic mothers have a greater risk of birth defects, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA says, “Blood glucose is the main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy. Blood glucose is also called blood sugar. High blood sugar levels and ketones (substances that in large amounts are poisonous to the body) can pass through the placenta to the baby. These increase the chance of birth defects.” They suggest you target these levels for your blood glucose levels before getting pregnant:
- Pre meal (before eating): 60-119 mg/dl
- 1 hour after meals: 100-149 mg/dl
The American Diabetes Association outlines some of the possible risks to the mother and baby if blood glucose levels are too high during pregnancy:
- Premature delivery
- Birth defects (not usually a risk for women with gestational diabetes)
- Macrosomia (having a large baby)
- Low blood glucose at birth (hypoglycemia, a condition that occurs when one’s blood glucose is lower than normal, usually less than 70 mg/dl. Signs include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light headedness, sleepiness and confusion. The ADA says “if left untreated, hypoglycemia may lead to unconsciousness.” Hypoglycemia is treated by consuming a carbohydrate-rich food such as a glucose tablet or juice. It may also be treated with an injection of glucagon if the person is unconscious or unable to swallow.)
- Prolonged jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
- Respiratory distress syndrome (difficulty breathing)
Risks for the mother:
- Worsening of diabetic eye problems
- Worsening of diabetic kidney problems
- Infections of the urinary bladder and vaginal area
- Difficult delivery or cesarean section
Skin and foot care with diabetes
Different foot problems can develop with diabetics. Ordinary problems get worse and lead to serious complications, according to the ADA. Most diabetic foot problems happen when there is nerve damage, also referred to as neuropathy. Tingling, pain (burning or stinging), or weakness in the foot can be the result of neuropathy. This foot problem can also cause loss of feeling in the foot, making it much easier to injure and not know it.
According to the American Diabetes Association, here is how to prevent diabetic skin problems:
- Keep your diabetes well managed. The food you eat gets digested and broken down into a sugar your body’s cells can use. This is glucose, one of the simplest forms of blood sugar levels tend to have dry skin and less ability to fend off harmful bacteria. Both conditions increase the risk of infection.
- Keep skin clean and dry.
- Avoid very hot baths and showers. If your skin is dry, do not use bubble baths. Moisturizing soaps may help. Afterward, use a standard skin lotion, but do not put lotions between toes. The extra moisture there can encourage fungus to grow.
- Prevent dry skin. Scratching dry or itchy skin can open it up and allow infection to set in. Moisturize your skin to prevent chapping, especially in cold or windy weather.
- Treat cuts right away. Wash minor cuts with soap and water. Only use an antibiotic cream or ointment if your doctor says it is okay. Cover minor cuts with sterile gauze. See a doctor right away if you get a major cut, burn, or infection.
- During cold, dry months, keep your home more humid. Bathe less during this weather, if possible.
- Use mild shampoos.
- Do not use feminine hygiene sprays.
- See a dermatologist (skin doctor) about skin problems if you are not able to solve them yourself.
- Take good care of your feet. Check them every day for sores and cuts. Wear broad, flat shoes that fit well. Check your shoes for foreign objects before putting them on.
- Talk to your doctor or dermatologist (skin doctor) if you are not able to solve a skin problem yourself.
Diabetic blisters can form on the backs of fingers, hands, toes, feet, and occasionally on legs or forearms. According to the ADA, there is no pain associated with these blisters and can be managed by controlling blood glucose levels. These blisters go away within three weeks.
Oral health care for diabetics
The ADA says diabetics are at a higher risk for gum problems. Poor blood glucose levels will more likely result in gum problems. When gum disease is present, germs work to destroy gums (gingiva) and the bone around teeth.
The American Diabetes Association released these warning signs for gum disease.
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss. This bleeding is not normal. Even if your gums do not hurt, get them checked.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums.
- Gums that have pulled away from teeth. Part of the tooth’s root may show, or your teeth may look longer.
- Pus between the teeth and gums (when you press on the gums).
- Bad breath.
- Permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from each other.
- Changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite.
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures or bridges.
Eye care for diabetics
In some cases, diabetes may lead to blindness. According to the ADA, most people who have diabetes have only minor eye disorders. The American Diabetes Association says there are additional eye problems that can occur in diabetics including:
Managing diabetes can be complicated.