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12 Tips for Managing your Diabetes

Nearly one in 10 Americans has diabetes, which can increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, and other health problems. If you're living with diabetes, these tips will help you take care of your health.

  1. Take your diabetes medicines (if needed).
    If you need oral medications or insulin, it’s important to take them as prescribed by your doctor. Also, ask your doctor if you need to take aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
  2. Keep track of your blood sugar. 
    If your blood has too much or too little sugar (glucose), you may need a change in your meal plan, exercise plan, or medication. Ask your doctor how often you should check your blood sugar. 
  3. Know your blood pressure.
    Check your blood pressure if your doctor advises and keep a record of it. You can check your pressure at home with a home blood pressure measurement device or monitor. 
  4. Check your feet every day. 
    You may have reduced feeling in your feet caused by high blood sugar levels and a reduced blood supply to your legs. If you don’t notice a foot injury, it can cause ulcers, which can ultimately lead to the need for amputation if left untreated.
  5. Take care of your teeth.
    High blood sugar also can make tooth and gum problems worse and even cause tooth loss. To protect your teeth, brush your teeth after eating, floss at least once a day, and see your dentist regularly.
  6. Get help to quit smoking.
    Smoking raises your risk for many diabetes problems, including heart attack and stroke. Ask for help to quit. Call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669). 
  7. Eat well.
    The foods that are best for someone with diabetes are excellent choices for everyone: foods that are low in fat, salt, and sugar, and high in fiber, such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 
  8. Be active.
    Try to exercise almost every day for a total of about 30 to 60 minutes. If you haven't exercised lately, begin slowly. Start with 5 to 10 minutes, and then add more time. Or exercise for 10 minutes, three times a day. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. 
  9. Take care of your eyes.
    High blood glucose and high blood pressure from diabetes can hurt your eyes. It can even cause blindness, or other painful eye problems. That’s why it’s important to have an eye care professional examine your eyes once a year.
  10. Get tested for kidney disease every year.
    High blood glucose and high blood pressure may damage the kidneys, which filter out wastes and extra fluid. Ask your doctor how often you should get tested for kidney disease. If you already have kidney problems, your dietitian may suggest you cut back on protein. 
  11. Protect your skin.
    Because people with diabetes may have more injuries and infections, protect your skin by keeping it clean and taking care of minor cuts and bruises. 
  12. Practice ways to reduce stress.
    Stress can raise your blood sugar. While it’s hard to remove stress from your life, you can learn to handle it. Try deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, meditating, working on your hobby, or listening to your favorite music.