10 Tips for Diabetics Who Have Just Been Diagnosed
1. Take a deep breath and try not to be alarmed. This isn’t a death sentence or a terrible disease that will take your life. If you face diabetes head on and work at it, you will and will survive and even succeed. Yeah, it would necessitate certain lifestyle changes, however it is possible. Many diabetics lead complete and productive lives. The old fear of losing limbs has largely gone away. Let the games begin!
2. STOP SMOKING IMMEDIATELY if you do! This is unquestionably real. Diabetes can damage blood vessels, resulting in decreased circulation to the extremities, especially the feet. Smoking also decreases blood flow and circulation throughout the body, especially in the legs and feet. When you combine the two, you have a powerfully damaging assault on the critical blood supply to the limbs. The risk of infection and ulcers (open wounds) rises significantly as blood flow decreases. This can lead to amputation, which is a risky road to take.
3. TEAM Diabetic Shoes are now available for purchase!! Diabetes management is a joint effort. You will be grateful for any assistance that is provided to you. You are the focus of attention. Find the teammates to be the supporting cast. Your medical team should include your primary care physician, an endocrinologist (diabetes specialist doctor), a diabetic nurse, a dietician or nutritionist, a podiatrist (foot doctor), an ophthalmologist/optometrist (eye doctor), and other medical specialists as required. If you have a partner or significant other, they will play an important role on your team as well. Ascertain that you are at ease with each member of your team. While you can communicate with certain team members more often than others, your comfort and ease in interacting and collaborating with each teammate is crucial.
Medicine has its own language, which is almost alien to most people. Many new phrases and definitions will be thrown at you that you do not understand. It’s crucial for you to be able to follow through with your team’s conversations and recommendations. So, don’t be afraid to doubt or even disagree with something you don’t understand. Simply listening without really hearing or knowing is dangerous and can result in poor diabetes control. Communication is important in medicine, just as it is in marriage. Listen to the team and make them listen to you.
4. Make a candid evaluation of yourself. Are there any factors that might have contributed to your diabetes or that you might alter to better control it? Are you severely overweight or on the verge of being so? Extra body fat may lead to blood sugar elevation. Is your blood pressure regular or under control if you’re being treated by a doctor? Diabetes puts a strain on the heart and blood vessels (cardio-vascular system), and high blood pressure can worsen the issue by raising the risk of heart disease and stroke. How’s your diet going? Do you often eat out, where many takeout or restaurant foods are high in fat, salt, and calories? Do you consume a lot of ready-to-eat foods at home? Again, these are also high in fat, sodium (salt), and calories. Your diet has a big influence on blood sugar levels. Many people newly diagnosed with diabetes consult with a dietician or nutritionist to change their diet, which aids in the battle against diabetes. Do you go for a run? Even a short walk several times a week will help to lower the blood sugar levels. When you workout, the muscles burn sugar, which aids in weight loss. Exercise can also help you improve your overall health and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. You should seek medical advice before beginning an exercise program.
5. It’s all about the numbers in this case. Numbers are king when it comes to diabetes. There are a few main figures to keep track of and comprehend. The A1c is the most commonly used and tracked (glycated hemoglobin). Simply put, this is an AVERAGE of the glycemic or glucose regulation for the last three months. It is usually correlated and blood glucose levels, with the higher the blood glucose over the course of three months, the higher the A1c. Your doctor will talk to you about your A1c level, which is determined by a blood test, and recommend a target number that is right for you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for all. The lower the amount, in general, the better. The trick is to keep an eye on it for several months and look for improvements. Over the course of ten years, a study in the United Kingdom of over 5000 type 2 diabetic patients found that lowering the A1c from 7.9 to 7.0 decreased the rate of microvascular (small blood vessel) complications, which affect the eyes, kidneys, and nerves, by 25%. Each one-point reduction in A1c results in a 25% reduction in diabetes-related deaths.
Your blood pressure and kidney function are two other critical numbers that you and your provider can keep track of. Diabetes has an effect on the kidneys, causing nephropathy, kidney disease, and possibly kidney failure. Your kidney health will be tracked by blood and urine tests. The blood creatinine level is a crucial indicator of kidney function. In general, the lower the better. Furthermore, a urine test may check for some protein in the urine since damaged kidneys leak protein into the urine. Long-term diabetes management and routine monitoring are important. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” as the old saying goes. Diabetes is a long-term struggle to keep your health in check.
All of the above numbers and tests are typically completed by your provider; your role is to remain on top of your provider and ensure that these tests are completed on a regular basis. Bear in mind that you are one of thousands of patients they treat. It is your responsibility to remain on top of them in order to ensure the best diabetes management.
Now, the test and number that YOU are in possession of and that will help you properly monitor your diabetes is —-
6. BLOOD GLUCOSE MONITORING AT HOME A1c is a three-month average. We all know how averages can be deceiving from our school days. On a test, you can get a 100 one day and a 60 the next, for an average of 80. Alternatively, you could have 80 for two days in a row and average 80. Since the average is the same, would you rather employ a doctor who had the first set of numbers on his or her tests or the second set, which were more consistent? What if the 60-point test resulted from diabetes knowledge? In conclusion, A1c can be deceiving at times. We use it because it is simple to obtain and use. However, you must monitor your glucose at home to really understand how well you are handling your diabetes. The more you do this, the better. You will compare movement and diet adjustments to the glucose by doing it at different times in the day and writing it down. The most critical times to search are when you haven’t eaten in at least 8 hours, such as first thing in the morning. The so-called 2-hour postprandial glucose examination, which occurs about 2 hours after feeding, is another crucial moment. This explains how the body treats food, as well as how well your own insulin or diabetes drugs are working. These statistics should be written down and addressed to your diabetes medical professional at each appointment, and more regularly if appropriate. Previously, home glucose monitoring was done with finger sticks. This, however, is increasingly evolving. New modalities are constantly being established, such as non-invasive monitors that do not involve puncturing the skin. Insulin pumps will also track your glucose levels during the day since they are connected to you. Testing your glucose levels has never been simpler or less painful thanks to new technologies. These solutions should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
7. Take your medicine as directed. How easy, but so complex. Some patients are able to monitor their diabetes with only dietary changes, weight loss, and exercise at first. If you are fortunate enough to be able to do this and make it work, that is fantastic. Unfortunately, for many people, this does not provide enough glucose regulation, and even if it does, it becomes more complicated over time as diabetes progresses. Recognize that medicine is an art rather than a science. What is effective for one patient can be fatal for another. The effectiveness (or how well a medication works) and side effects of a drug differ greatly from one person to the next. Initially, the physician will put you on a schedule that is tailored to your specific needs. Be mindful of the risk of harmful side effects or a lack of effect. It may take multiple trials of different drugs or combinations of medications to find the right treatment. Then both your provider and you will need to keep an eye on things. Don’t be afraid to keep in touch with your doctor about the medication’s effectiveness and any side effects. You are not bothering them with details, and if they make you feel bad, tell them. If they keep doing this, it’s time to find a new service provider. As previously mentioned, managing diabetes requires a team strategy, and if a provider is a bad teammate, FIRE them. Know that they work for you. In the end, follow your doctor’s orders and take your medicine as instructed. Don’t forget to take your prescription and don’t run out of it. Keep an eye on the refills.
8. The base is FEET. Diabetes has a major impact on the feet in a number of respects. Bad circulation and nerve damage or loss of sensation in the feet are two of the most common factors damaged by diabetes that contribute to foot pathology. Diabetics’ large blood vessels that supply blood to their feet often become blocked. When there is a sudden clot, it normally progresses slowly. Plaque lining the walls of the arteries, which induces heart attacks, occurs in the leg and/or foot arteries, causing insufficient blood flow. The lifeline that keeps the body and its parts alive is blood. Damage to the skin, bones, and nerves occurs as blood flow reduces, and the body’s capacity to recover is significantly reduced. A minor cut and bruise combined with poor circulation can result in months of slow healing or, worse, no healing and limb loss. The word “neuropathy” is familiar to most diabetics. This is essentially nerve damage that causes irregular sensations such as pain or burning, as well as partial or total loss of sensation. In diabetic neuropathy, the feet are often the first part of the body to be affected. It normally begins at the toes and gradually works its way up the foot to the legs. Painful neuropathy, such as diabetic foot pain, can be effectively treated with drugs. The more common decrease or loss of sensation, on the other hand, is much more difficult to control and, in many cases, impossible to avoid. The usual defensive function of the nerves in the feet is lost when feeling is lost. Since our bodies come into contact with the ground at the bottom of our feet, the nerve fibers on the bottom of our feet are usually thick. These nerve fibers send continuous input from the feet to the brain, helping us to walk and avoid hurting ourselves when we step on objects. If the brain were a computer, the nerves in the feet would act as the keyboard or input device, supplying crucial information to the brain or computer. The brain is essentially cut off from the feet when there is total loss of feeling. As a result, we are unable to defend ourselves from potentially harmful stimuli such as sharp objects. Furthermore, we overuse the bones of the toes in particular, as well as the joints of the feet, without the usual protective sensation. Over time, this results in deformities such as hammertoes (bent toes), bone spurs, and arthritis. Since the skin is often traumatized, this can result in ulcers or open wounds. These are difficult to treat because diabetics’ skin is less stable due to damage to the collagen or cement that keeps their skin together.
Reduced or absent skin sweating is another sign of neuropathy in the feet. Sweating is a good way to keep the skin moist and balanced. Dry skin is less able to withstand the regular beating that the feet get. This can result in skin breakdown or cracks, which act as entry points for infection. Dry skin also makes calluses more possible, which is harmful since calluses can lead to ulcers or wounds.
9. So, how do we look after our feet? First and foremost, keep your blood sugar under check. Neuropathy or worsening neuropathy is caused by poor glucose regulation. Furthermore, as blood glucose levels increase, the risk of infection from mild trauma or even scratches increases dramatically. As blood glucose levels increase, skin heals more slowly and with a lower quality. DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR FEET ON A Regular BASIS. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies well here. Any changes in the skin, such as fresh or deteriorating calluses, redness, cracks, swelling, and so on, should be noticed and reported to your podiatrist if they get worse (foot doctor). With an infection, even one more day will spell disaster. Get a girlfriend, significant other, or even a friend check your feet if you can’t see them. Use a mirror or even a mobile phone camera to photograph and expose the bottoms of your feet.
Apply a moisturizing cream to your feet every day, ideally before bedtime. This keeps the skin safe and helps it to better withstand shoe trauma.
SOCKS and INSOLES There are diabetic insoles that are made specifically for comfort and safety. Despite the fact that I am not diabetic, I wear the IDEASTEP diabetic insoles because of their comfort and superior biomechanics. Diabetes footwear, in general, comes in a range of widths to prevent cramping on the sides of the feet and toes, as well as the pain that can lead to open wounds. In addition, there is a wide round toe box that accommodates toes and any deformities that are normal. The PLISATETE is gentle on the skin to prevent irritation.
To learn more about Ideastep’s cutting-edge diabetic insoles, click here.
Cotton socks should not be worn. Cotton, contrary to popular opinion, is a weak shoe fabric. Cotton absorbs moisture and keeps feet wet all day, causing skin and nail fungus. Acrylic, polypropylene, and wool are all good options for fabrics. The specially made Orthofeet BioSoft diabetic socks are even better. They’re moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial, and have smooth seams. They’re also knitted with bamboo yarns, which makes them ultra-soft and cozy, unlike other brands. I wear them myself and have never had a pair of socks that are better. To read more about Orthofeet’s special diabetic socks, click here.
10. Finally, take a deep breath again. At first, all of this can seem to be daunting. But keep in mind that diabetes management is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in it for the long haul, probably for a long time. All of this has a learning curve, much like having the first mobile phone or device. You’ll gradually improve and become more comfortable with all of the activities and improvements you’ll have to make. If you follow the advice above for newly diagnosed diabetics, you will enjoy a long and stable life while controlling this disease. Don’t be afraid to rely on your team, as well as friends and significant others if you’re fortunate enough to have them. There are also community organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association, and your local hospital may have one. You’ve got this!!