Living Well With Diabetes: Taking Care of Yourself From Head To Toe
When it comes to your body, diabetes knows no bounds. Diabetes can reach anywhere blood flows—which means everywhere. The high blood glucose that’s the hallmark of diabetes can damage the blood vessels. That includes the small blood vessels that are important for eyes, kidneys and nerves, and the larger blood vessels such as those of the heart.
Fortunately, a lot of potential damage can be stopped in its tracks with good blood glucose management. That requires attention to healthy eating, exercise, weight control and, if needed, medication.
Here are some other tips for good preventive care for people with diabetes, from head to toe.
Keep an Eye on It
People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing dry eye disease, retinal disease, glaucoma and, especially if they smoke, cataracts. Yearly eye exams are essential. If your doctor sees signs of trouble, he or she may have you visit more often.
Watch Your Mouth
The relationship between diabetes and gum disease is interesting because it’s unclear whether high blood glucose levels cause gum disease or vice versa. Either way you should have twice-yearly dental cleanings to keep things in check. Gum disease can be more severe and take longer to heal if you have diabetes. There can be issues with teeth sitting in the gums. And people with poor blood glucose control can lose teeth because they won’t fit within the bone. It is important to have good dental hygiene, and especially brushing your teeth before bed. Bacteria have the best chance to grow while you sleep.
Diabetes can significantly increase the risk of heart disease. In addition to eating right and exercising, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight and not smoke. Also, cut back on salt to help prevent high blood pressure, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels recommended by your doctor.
Be aware that people with diabetes may not have the typical signs of a heart attack such as crushing chest pain. Symptoms may be more subtle, such as neck and shoulder pain or shortness of breath, and shouldn’t be ignored. Seek immediate medical attention.
Find Your Footing
People with diabetes can lose sensitivity in their feet because of nerve damage, which means they have to be protected from cuts or injuries. Avoid going barefoot, and check your feet every day for sores, wounds and redness. See your doctor promptly if you notice a problem. Also be on the lookout for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, and keep your toenails trimmed according to the toe’s natural contours.
Save Your Skin
Your skin covers every inch of your body, so protecting it is an essential aspect of head-to-toe diabetes care.
High blood glucose levels can cause dehydration, which makes dry skin an issue. Dry skin is more prone to cracking, which can create a portal for infection. Avoid sunburns and exposure to extreme cold. Most important, keep your skin clean and moisturized.
Get Expert Help
The expert team at Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center can help you maintain a healthy diet and manage your diabetes. DNEC's outpatient diabetes education program is nationally recognized by the American Diabetes Association, and is run by a team of nurses and registered dietitians specially trained and certified in diabetes management and insulin pump training. For more information, click here or call 678-312-6040 to schedule a consult with our certified diabetes educators.