You Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes Complications
Controlling diabetes is a full-time job that never ends. If you stop monitoring your blood sugar levels and doing everything in your power to control them, your body will let you know it. You’re at risk for serious diabetes complications. Your vision may deteriorate, you could develop a foot infection that resists healing, your mouth could become ripe for gum disease, or worse. While these risks are real, the good news is this: In most cases, you have the power to prevent them.
Managing blood sugars and good body care go hand-in-hand. “Sugars are a great place to grow bacteria; it (bacteria) just has a heyday when blood sugars are high. You’re probably not going to get rid of an infection in your foot or your skin until your blood sugar is under control,” says diabetes educator Teresa Pearson, RN, CDE, president-elect for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “It’s a whole lot easier to manage any problems with your feet or other body parts when your blood sugars are normal.”
While controlling blood sugar levels is critical to avoid diabetes complications, it’s only part of the whole-body care equation. Individual parts of your body demand regular attention, too; namely, your mouth, feet, skin, and eyes. “It’s a lot to remember, and a lot to manage. That’s why it’s important to get a referral to a diabetes educator,” Pearson tells us. “With a diabetes educator, body care is more likely part of a formal discussion, as opposed to being problem-based.” Referring patients to diabetes educators may not be standard practice for most primary care physicians, explains Pearson, but it’s a service that most insurance companies are willing to cover.
A diabetes educator can provide information about the disease and explain how to manage it on a day-to-day basis. But it’s ultimately up to the patient to take control to avoid diabetes complications. “Patients need to be proactive. Patients are part of the team; they’re taking care of it on a day-to-day basis. They need to do a great deal to keep blood sugars under control. They need to be self-disciplined,” says Dianne Carter, RN, CDE, a diabetes nurse educator with the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.
To make the task more manageable, We have broken down each major body care area into four sections, complete with advice from experts and easy-to-follow strategies. Use these tips to help you prevent diabetes complications. Make sure your primary care doctor passes on information about your case to any specialists you see, such as dentists, eye care professionals, and podiatrists.
And keep this in mind: “Most complications can be prevented with good diabetes control, seeing your doctor regularly, and really taking good care of yourself. At our clinic, we see people who have had diabetes for 50 years and have minimal complications,” Carter says.