Living a Long, Healthy Life with Diabetes
Diabetes affects more than 10 percent of people living in Michigan. But did you know that there is more than one type of diabetes? There are actually three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
With type 1 diabetes, your body can't make insulin, so you need to take insulin every day. Insulin regulates the amount of sugar in the blood and is produced by the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes; about 5 percent of people who have diabetes have type 1. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes and there is no cure.
More than one-third of American adults—around 86 million—have prediabetes, and 9 out of 10 don't know it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Without lifestyle changes, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
Most people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels.
With gestational diabetes, women develop diabetes during pregnancy. However, once the baby is delivered, gestational diabetes usually goes away.
Find out the risk factors
If you have any of these risk factors, ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future.
Risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- Physical inactivity
- Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds
- Race and ethnicity: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans have a higher risk for diabetes
9 tips to take charge of diabetes
It’s a great time to take charge of diabetes for a long, healthy life. People with diabetes need to take steps to make sure they are healthy year-round. One of the most important steps is to visit your doctor two to four times a year. Bring this checklist with you and talk with your doctor about the best ways to stay healthy.
- Check your blood sugar at home: It is important to keep your blood sugar at the right level. One way to do this it to test your blood sugar frequently at home with a glucometer.
- Healthy eating: Balance your plate and keep portions moderate. Eating the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal can help control blood sugar.
- Keep moving: Be active for 30 minutes most days of the week.
Every three to six months
- Review your HbA1c: This test shows you what your blood glucose levels have been over the past two or three months (should be less than 7.0).
- Measure your blood pressure: Maintaining normal blood pressure (less than 140/90 mm Hg) helps to prevent damage to the eyes, kidneys, heart and blood vessels.
- Dental checkup: Diabetes makes you more likely to have gum disease.
- Test your cholesterol: Diabetes can make your blood cholesterol level too high. Maintaining normal cholesterol levels helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and circulation problems.
- Eye exam: Get a dilated eye exam to help detect retinopathy.
- Flu shot: Diabetes can weaken the immune system and make you more likely to develop severe illness.
Tips for Healthy Feet
Those with diabetes are at increased risk for many different foot problems. The National Diabetes Education Program provides this tips:
- Check your feet every day for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, and infected toenails.
- Wash your feet every day in warm water. Do not soak your feet. Dry your feet and pay close attention to drying between your toes.
- Keep the skin soft and smooth by putting lotion or cream on the tops and bottoms of your feet, but do not put it in between your toes.
- Ask a doctor about how to best treat your corns and calluses. Do not cut them.
- If you can see, reach, and feel your feet, trim your toenails regularly using nail clippers. Trim toenails straight across and smooth the corners with an emery board or nail file. If you can’t reach your feet, ask your doctor to do this for you.
- Wear shoes and socks at all times.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold. Keep your feet away from heat sources and open fires. Wear socks at night if your feet get cold. Wear lined boots in the winter to keep feet warm.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when you are sitting. Wiggle your toes for five minutes, 2-3 times a day.
- Be more active to help improve the blood flow to your feet.
- Be sure to ask your health care team to check your feet at every visit, check the sense of feeling and pulses in your feet and show you how to care for your feet.
Concerned About Your Feet?
If you have a cut or sore on your foot, make an appointment with your doctor and/or call the Bronson Battle Creek Wound Healing Center at (269) 245-8560.
About the author
Sarah Clark, MS, RD, CDE, is a diabetes educator at the Bronson Battle Creek Diabetes Education Center, located at 363 Fremont St., Suite 109 in Battle Creek. She can be reached at (269) 245-8190.