Focus on the Fundamentals of Diabetes Care
Diabetes can affect many parts of the body. People with the disease are at a higher risk for serious health problems. Monitoring your blood sugar levels, controlling your blood pressure and getting an annual eye exam are essential parts of diabetes care that can help prevent or delay complications.
Get the A1C Test
Regularly monitoring your blood sugar is one of the most important ways to manage diabetes. There are two ways to measure your blood sugar. The first is a blood sugar check that you can do yourself. It shows your blood sugar level at the time of the test. The second is the A1C test, which is done in a lab or at your health care provider’s office.
The A1C test measures average blood sugar levels over a period of three months. It shows how well your diabetes treatment plan is working or if changes need to be made. People with diabetes get this test at least twice a year. Some will need the test more often if their results are higher than their goal number or if there is a change in their diabetes treatment plan. Your provider will tell you how often you need the test. He or she will also help determine your personal A1C goal.
Control Your Blood Pressure
People with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease and are at a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney disease. Controlling your blood pressure is an important way to protect your heart health and prevent other diabetes complications.
If you have high blood pressure, work with your provider to find a treatment plan for you. Treatment may include healthy lifestyle changes and medicine, if your provider prescribes it for you. Lifestyle changes may include eating a healthy diet, getting physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.
Get an Eye Exam
Diabetes can harm your vision. A common complication is diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar and high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in your retina and lead to permanent vision loss. People with diabetes are also at risk for cataracts and glaucoma. The good news is that finding and treating problems early can help protect your eyesight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam at least once every year. During the exam, your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to enlarge your pupils. This will help your provider see into your eyes and check for problems.
You should also let your doctor know if you have any changes in your vision, including:
• Having blurry vision.
• Seeing black lines or spots.
• Seeing red spots or red fog.
• Seeing rings around lights or flashing lights.