For people with diabetes, maintaining health and stable blood-sugar levels can be struggle.
You have to manage your levels, watch what you eat and be careful not to let it get out of control. But there are some more things you can do to take care of your health that you may not have heard before. Here are a few ways you can help manage your diabetes and take control of your health.
- Get your hearing checked — Diabetes can cause hearing loss, an often overlooked complication. According to the National Institutes of Health, hearing loss is about twice as common in people with diabetes than those without. Those with uncontrolled diabetes showed higher instances of hearing loss than those with controlled diabetes. Have your hearing checked annually to help avert more hearing loss.
- Keep an eye on your eyes — Much like your hearing, your eyes are at risk, too. You’ve likely heard of the risk of blindness in diabetics — and it’s something you should never ignore. While preventable, vision problems in diabetics are unfortunately very common. Blurry vision is one of the most common warning signs of diabetes. You may get blurry vision because fluid is leaking into the lens of your eye. This leakage makes the lens swell and change shape, which makes it hard for your eyes to focus. If you start to notice eye problems, see an opthamologist.
- Check your mental health — Diabetes can also interfere with psychosocial health. Many mental health care providers are not well-versed in dealing with patients with diabetes, so search for a provider with experience in diabetes care.
- Check your heart — An often forgotten complication of diabetes is heart failure. One study showed that heart failure is twice as common in diabetic men and five times as common in diabetic women ages 45-74. Those with diabetes and heart failure are at high risk of death. Your doctor should monitor your heart and possibly send you to a cardiologist to make sure your heart is healthy. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get your heart checked.
- Check your gums — If you have diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for gum disease than those without, so stay on top of your oral health. Brushing, flossing and regular check-ups are vitally important for diabetics. A bacterial infection in your teeth can very quickly go to your heart and cause serious illness or even death.
- Don’t drink — Drinking alcohol while diabetic can aggravate all the other diabetes complications you have heard about. If you take medication to manage your blood sugar, drinking alcohol can cause your blood sugar to dip dangerously low. Normally, your liver releases glucose into your blood, but when you drink alcohol, your liver is busy breaking down the alcohol and can’t take care of the rest of your body. Alcohol also makes you gain weight, which aggravates diabetes, and it raises your triglycerides, which are fats in your blood, and can lead to heart and artery damage.
If you must drink, keep the amount low. Each drink takes an hour to an hour and a half to process, so give it time. The more you drink, the more you risk low blood sugar. Never drink on an empty stomach — always eat some carbohydrates before you consume alcohol. Wear a medical alert bracelet, and carry glucose pills with you for an emergency.
Most important: Know all you can about your condition. Many local community centers have diabetes classes for those who are newly diagnosed. Your doctor likely doesn’t have time to go over everything with you and may refer you to a class. Take it and learn from it. It could save your life and your quality of life.
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