If you’re one of the over 25 million people in the United States who suffer from diabetes, you probably already know that managing your disease is a daily struggle. The doctor may have given you medications and explained your dietary regime, but it’s important to understand that you will have to be vigilant about many aspects of your health for the rest of your life. Your diabetes will change with time, and if you maintain an active, healthy lifestyle, it can get easier to manage. But people with diabetes are also at risk for other health problems, which is why it’s important to make sure all of these areas are monitored, once a year or hopefully more.
The scary facts are that 600,000 diabetics get foot ulcers every year, and that 80,000 get amputations – everything from a toe to the entire lower leg. Treating foot problems can be very expensive and problematic, which is why monitoring your circulation should be one of the top priorities for anyone with type 2 diabetes. A doctor should be examining your feet and legs for sores and swelling regularly, and you can help prevent any issues by wearing the right shoes and taking pressure off your feet when you can.
2. Eye Health
Diabetes can cause a lot of damage to the blood vessels in your eyes, leaving you at higher risk for glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye diseases. While many diabetes patients have no problems whatsoever with their eyes, it’s still an important thing to get checked. If you do have a problem, early detection could save your vision. That’s why it’s important to have an eye doctor dilate your eyes to look for abnormalities at least once every year.
3. Kidney Health
Most people are unaware that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S. High blood sugar levels and high blood pressure are both major causes of kidney damage, and while you’re working to keep those under control, you should also have regular tests to detect issues with your kidneys. Blood and urine tests can determine whether your kidneys are functioning properly, or whether you have the excess protein associated with diabetic nephropathy of the kidneys.
4. Blood Glucose Monitoring
You may have already gotten advice from your doctor on how and when to use a blood glucose meter to measure your glucose levels. Some patients taking insulin can measure their glucose up to 10 times a day. But it’s just as important to get the Hemoglobin A1c test, which is actually the most accurate way to monitor how well your diabetes is being controlled. Patients usually have this blood test every three months, and it can tell you the average of your glucose levels over 6 to 12 weeks, to see if you’ve reached a stage of good control. Even if your disease is in good control, you need the A1C test every six months.
The idea of being proactive with your diabetes can be overwhelming. It’s a lifelong condition that you have to stay on top of. But the positive side is that everyone can do with being much more vigilant about their health as they age, and you might have a head start on improving your lifestyle. There was never a more important time to change what you eat, the choices you make, and how you reach the goal of staying healthy.