Reducing Risks from Complications

Poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of developing health problems. Studies such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trials and the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study have shown that the risk of developing problems such as eye disease, kidney disease and nerve disease can be reduced.

Getting started It is most important for you to keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible. Blood pressure and blood fat control is also needed. There are several steps you can take to prevent problems and stay healthy.

1. Control your blood sugar.

  • Talk with your doctor about the blood sugar range that is best for you.
  • Check your blood sugar regularly.

2. See your doctor regularly.

  • See your doctor for check-ups 2-4 times per year.
  • Know what exams and blood values the American Diabetes Association recommends for people with diabetes.

3. Control high blood pressure.

  • Aim for blood pressure of 130/80 mmHg or less.
  • Eat healthy to lose weight, decrease salt and alcohol use.
  • Get regular exercise such as walking, swimming or biking. (See your doctor before starting an exercise program.)
  • Ask your doctor about the benefit of taking aspirin and using a medicine called an ACE Inhibitor, an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) or a diuretic.

4. Control blood fats.

  • Adults with diabetes should aim for triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL, LDL of less than 100 mg/dL and HDL of more than 40 mg/dL for men and more than 50 mg/dL for women.
  • Decrease your fat intake. Substitute small amounts of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil and nuts.
  • Aim for a modest weight loss.
  • Always take any medicines prescribed by your doctor.
  • Get regular exercise.

5. Quit smoking.

  • Ask your doctor for suggestions or referrals to programs.
  • If needed, get pills, patches, gum, or call your state's Quit Line to stop smoking.

6. Lose weight if you are overweight.

  • Talk with your doctor or dietitian about setting practical goals for weight loss.
  • Get a meal plan from a dietitian.
  • Watch portion sizes and fat intake.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Try to find out why you overeat.

7. Practice good foot care.

  • Check your feet daily. At each doctor visit, have your doctor check your feet.
  • Wear appropriate shoes and socks. Don't go barefoot.
  • Keep feet clean and dry.
  • Don't self treat corns, calluses or ingrown toe nails.
  • Trim toe nails properly.

8. Avoid infections.

  • Wash hands often.
  • Take care of injuries promptly.
  • Ask your doctor about flu and pneumonia vaccines.

9. Practice good dental care.

  • Have regular dental exams every 6 months.
  • Brush after every meal and floss daily.

How can your doctor help you? Although there is no guarantee you will avoid problems from diabetes, you can decrease your risk by following the above steps. Work with your doctor to decrease problems.