Managing Diabetes : Nearly Everything You Need To Know
Managing Diabetes can feel like a full-time job. Whether it’s Type I or Type II, the condition is complicated and can severely impact the quality of life. Leaving blood sugar, i.e., glucose, unchecked can cause serious or life-threatening complications like diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy, CVDs, etc .
Nevertheless, there is light at the end of this sugar-burdened tunnel. Diabetes management keeps you healthy and prevents complications. In 2019, 1.5 million people lost their lives due to diabetes. By 2021, there were about 537 million adults living with diabetes globally.
Your toolbox for managing Managing Diabetes
Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed with proper care. If you’re living with diabetes, medication, monitoring, physical activity, lifestyle and the right diet is the arsenal in your toolbox. Here, we tackle the first four. The information on eating healthy to manage diabetes is a story for another day.
Step 1: Diabetes Monitoring
The first and vital step to Managing Diabetes is keeping track of blood sugar. Why is it important to keep glucose levels in check? Because it prevents serious issues like kidney or heart disease, increases your energy and improves your mood.
You can use a glucometer (a blood sugar metre) or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for this. The former uses a tiny blood sample, generally taken from your fingertip, to measure blood sugar. The latter has a sensor that monitors levels constantly and is inserted under the skin.
What’s a happy blood sugar reading?
The normal range of glucose should be 70 to 99 mg/dL when fasting. But if you are living with diabetes, keep it between 80–130 mg/dl
After a meal the blood glucose level of person who doesn’t have diabetes should be 140 mg/dL 2 hours. For Managing Diabetes, it has to be less than 180 mg/dl.
If you opt for a glucometer, the ideal times to check blood sugar are:
- In the morning, before eating or drinking anything.
- Either before a meal or two hours after it.
- Right before you go to sleep.
If your glucose falls below 70 mg/dL, immediately consume four pieces of candy or glucose tablets or drink about 120 ml of fruit juice or soda. After 15 minutes, check your glucose again.
Diabetes management test
Part of monitoring diabetes involves getting a blood test at least twice a year. Do note your doctor may increase the frequency if you have health complications. One of the tests that is particularly beneficial for managing diabetes is A1C. It’s also known as HbA1c, glycated haemoglobin, or glycohemoglobin test, and is part of diabetes ABCs.
What are the ABCs of diabetes?
A1C: Get it tested regularly. It checks the average glucose level in your body for the past 2 to 3 months. The healthy level varies based on your age, condition, medication, etc. But largely, it should be within 7 to 8% if you’re living with diabetes.
Blood pressure: Keep it below 140/90 mm Hg
Cholesterol levels: Manage them. Your total cholesterol level should be 200 mg/dl or less. The ideal LDL is less than 100 mg/dl. For men, HDL should be 45 mg/dl. For women, HDL must be 55 mg/dl or more. The target for 150 mg/dl or less for triglycerides.
Stop smoking: It’s particularly dangerous for diabetics.
Step 2: Physical activity and losing weight
For Managing Diabetes, some form of exercise is pivotal because it not only keeps your weight healthy but also manages the condition. When you are active, your body doesn’t need to make as much insulin because it becomes sensitive to the hormone. That effectively lowers your blood sugar.
Moreover, when insulin is low in the body, you don’t gain weight or store fat. It comes down to this: physical activity controls your glucose and lowers the chance of complications.
And that’s not the only advantage. Exercise helps you lose weight, and research shows that shedding even 5% of total body weight reduces blood sugar and your dependence on diabetes medicine.
Helpful tips for losing weight
- Track your weight by weighing yourself at home every week at the same time. Do it early in the morning, so your body has had time to digest all the food.
- Make sure you do everything the same before you weigh, like what you wear, drink, or eat before you get on the scale.
- Use an app like QurBook that lets you track your diabetes care. Note down your weight each week. It’ll motivate you to shed more and keep track of any patterns.
Helpful notes on starting a workout
The ideal thing is to get in 2.5 hours of moderate-level exercise each week. When you break it down to 20-minutes of walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, or even doing house chores every day, 2.5 hours is not much. Remember, a week has 168 hours!
When you’re able to conquer this, add strength training to your regime. Use a resistance band or lift weights 2 days a week, so you can work all your muscle groups. Since most people look at exercise as work, here are some ways to get you on the workout horse:
- Find someone to exercise with.
- Pick an activity you love and enjoy, and you’ll be able to stick to it.
- Add it to your schedule so it becomes a habit.
- Start small and slow. If all you can do is take the stairs twice a day or walk your dog, then that is enough. Up the time and intensity gradually.
- Have a goal like “I’ll walk for 15 minutes today.” Make it specific and achievable.
Actions to take
As a diabetic, always consult with a healthcare provider before you dive into vigorous exercise. If you are on insulin, check your levels before a workout. If it’s on the low side, bring it up as advised by your doctor.
In case blood sugar is high (above 240 mg/dL), don’t participate in physical activity because it can lead to serious diabetes complications.
Put on comfortable shoes while you exercise and drink plenty of fluids. For those prone to sores, blisters, or cuts on their feet, check for any injuries after you finish your activity of the day.
Step 3: Lifestyle changes
Sleep and stress are two lifestyle changes that help markedly in managing diabetes. When you sleep less, you feel hungrier, and your body craves foods high in carbs and calories – all of which are not healthy for diabetics.
Lack of sleep also releases stress hormones, which give the body the green signal to store fat. That’s why proper, unbroken sleep is critical. Being physically active obviously helps you sleep better and faster, but you can do more to get some solid Z’s:
- Fix a bedtime and stick to it.
- Create a bedtime routine and let your body know when it’s time to wind down.
- Switch off all screens 60 minutes before you plan to sleep.
- A dark and cool room is just what the doctor ordered.
- Don’t have heavy meals or alcohol right before you sleep.
Stress is a side effect of the current era, but for people living with diabetes, it can easily pass through the permeable membrane between healthy and unhealthy.
So, get rid of everything that causes stress, and if there are factors that you cannot control, learn to handle them. Simple lifestyle changes can lower stress:
- Spending time alone
- Prioritising family and friends over work
Step 4: Medication
Medication is the most important thing in your toolkit to manage diabetes. Talk to your doctor about the prescription. Over time, they may change it depending on what works for you. Since diabetes requires a regimen, a particularly beneficial step along with medication is to use a health-related mobile app.
Keep updating the app with minor issues or symptoms you notice, like a burning sensation in your feet. An AI-based app, like QurBook, can analyse the symptoms and then advise you on the probability of getting conditions like peripheral neuropathy. You can then begin therapeutic treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications.
Managing Diabetes to live a long, healthy life
Diabetes is a chronic, incurable disease. However, with proper management, there is no reason it should detract a person from living a good quality life. Make good choices, like opting for stairs rather than an escalator.
Make adjustments where needed, like removing sources of stress. And if you have a bad day, because it’s human to slip up, learn from it, and you’ll be able to live a long, healthy life.
And just in case you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes and are swimming in a sea of doubt, download QurBook. The app will help you with managing your diabetes!