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Mar.18.2019
 Preventing Diabetes Mellitus Complications

Preventing Diabetes Mellitus Complications

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.

What actions can I take to prevent diabetes complications?

Manage your diabetes

  • 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.
  • Check your blood sugar (glucose) levels as often as directed. 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.

Do not use nicotine or tobacco

Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider. Nicotine raises your risk for diabetes problems. If you quit using nicotine:
  • 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.

Keep your blood pressure under control

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.

Keep your cholesterol under control

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.

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 directed. 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.

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.

Take 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 of 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.

Take 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.

Drink responsibly

Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for nonpregnant women and 2 drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1½ oz of hard liquor.
It is important to eat food when you drink alcohol to avoid low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). Avoid alcohol if you:
  • Have a history of alcohol abuse or dependence.
  • Are pregnant.
  • Have liver disease, pancreatitis, advanced neuropathy, or severe hypertriglyceridemia.

Lessen 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.

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.
  • 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.