Elsevier Logo

English

ThisisPatientEngagementcontent

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR PATIENT GOES HOME?

Learn more about our Patient Engagement products now! Turn your patients into active participants in their healthcare by giving them easy access to the same evidence-based information you trust – but delivered in an easy-to-understand format.

Feb.05.2021
 Preventing Diabetes Mellitus Complications

Preventing Diabetes Mellitus Complications

You can help to prevent or slow down problems that are caused by diabetes (diabetes mellitus). Following your diabetes plan and taking care of yourself can reduce your risk of serious or life-threatening complications.

What actions can I take to prevent diabetes complications?

Diabetes management

  • Follow instructions from your health care providers about managing your diabetes. Your diabetes may be managed by a team of health care providers who can teach you how to care for yourself and can answer questions that you have.
  • Educate yourself about your condition so you can make healthy choices about eating and physical activity.
  • Know your target range for your blood sugar (glucose), and check your blood glucose level as often as told. Your health care provider will help you decide how often to check your blood glucose level depending on your treatment goals and how well you are meeting them.
  • Ask your health care provider if you should take low-dose aspirin daily and what dose is recommended for you. Taking low-dose aspirin daily is recommended to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol

Your personal target blood pressure is determined based on:
  • Your age.
  • Your medicines.
  • How long you have had diabetes.
  • Any other medical conditions you have.
To control your blood pressure:
  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about meal planning, exercise, and medicines.
  • Make sure your health care provider checks your blood pressure at every medical visit.
  • Monitor your blood pressure at home as told by your health care provider.
To control your cholesterol:
  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about meal planning, exercise, and medicines.
  • Have your cholesterol checked at least once a year.
  • You may be prescribed medicine to lower cholesterol (statin). If you are not taking a statin, ask your health care provider if you should be.
Controlling your cholesterol may:
  • Help prevent heart disease and stroke. These are the most common health problems for people with diabetes.
  • Improve your blood flow.

Medical appointments and vaccines

Schedule and keep yearly physical exams and eye exams. Your health care provider will tell you how often you need medical visits depending on your diabetes management plan. Keep all follow-up visits as told. This is important so possible problems can be identified early and complications can be avoided or treated.
  • Every visit with your health care provider should include measuring your:
    • Weight.
    • Blood pressure.
    • Blood glucose control.
  • Your A1C (hemoglobin A1C) level should be checked:
    • At least 2 times a year, if you are meeting your treatment goals.
    • 4 times a year, if you are not meeting treatment goals or if your treatment goals have changed.
  • Your blood lipids (lipid profile) should be checked yearly. You should also be checked yearly for protein in your urine (urine microalbumin).
  • If you have type 1 diabetes, get an eye exam 3–5 years after you are diagnosed, and then once a year after your first exam.
  • If you have type 2 diabetes, get an eye exam as soon as you are diagnosed, and then once a year after your first exam.
It is also important to keep your vaccines current. It is recommended that you receive:
  • A flu (influenza) vaccine every year.
  • A pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine and a hepatitis B vaccine. If you are age 65 or older, you may get the pneumonia vaccine as a series of two separate shots.
Ask your health care provider which other vaccines may be recommended.

Lifestyle

  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider. By avoiding nicotine and tobacco:
    • You will lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, nerve disease, and kidney disease.
    • Your cholesterol and blood pressure may improve.
    • Your blood circulation will improve.
  • If you drink alcohol:
    • Limit how much you use to:
      • 0–1 drink a day for women who are not pregnant.
      • 0–2 drinks a day for men.
    • Be aware of how much alcohol is in your drink. In the U.S., one drink equals one 12 oz bottle of beer (355 mL), one 5 oz glass of wine (148 mL), or one 11⁄2 oz glass of hard liquor (44 mL).

Taking care of your feet

Diabetes may cause you to have poor blood circulation to your legs and feet. Because of this, taking care of your feet is very important. Diabetes can cause:
  • The skin on the feet to get thinner, break more easily, and heal more slowly.
  • Nerve damage in your legs and feet, which results in decreased feeling. You may not notice minor injuries that could lead to serious problems.
To avoid foot problems:
  • Check your skin and feet every day for cuts, bruises, redness, blisters, or sores.
  • Schedule a foot exam with your health care provider once every year. This exam includes:
    • Inspecting the structure and skin of your feet.
    • Checking the pulses and sensation in your feet.
  • Make sure that your health care provider performs a visual foot exam at every medical visit.

Taking care of your teeth

People with poorly controlled diabetes are more likely to have gum (periodontal) disease. Diabetes can make periodontal diseases harder to control. If not treated, periodontal diseases can lead to tooth loss. To prevent this:
  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Visit your dentist 2 times a year.

Managing stress

Living with diabetes can be stressful. When you are experiencing stress, your blood glucose may be affected in two ways:
  • Stress hormones may cause your blood glucose to rise.
  • You may be distracted from taking good care of yourself.
Be aware of your stress level and make changes to help you manage challenging situations. To lower your stress levels:
  • Consider joining a support group.
  • Do planned relaxation or meditation.
  • Do a hobby that you enjoy.
  • Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Work with your health care provider or a mental health professional.

Where to find more information

Summary

  • You can take action to prevent or slow down problems that are caused by diabetes (diabetes mellitus). Following your diabetes plan and taking care of yourself can reduce your risk of serious or life-threatening complications.
  • Follow instructions from your health care providers about managing your diabetes. Your diabetes may be managed by a team of health care providers who can teach you how to care for yourself and can answer questions that you have.
  • Know your target range for your blood sugar (glucose), and check your blood glucose levels as often as told. Your health care provider will help you decide how often you should check your blood glucose level depending on your treatment goals and how well you are meeting them.
  • Your health care provider will tell you how often you need medical visits depending on your diabetes management plan. Keep all follow-up visits as directed. This is important so possible problems can be identified early and complications can be avoided or treated.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

;