Avoiding Complications

Thinking about the possible complications of diabetes can be frightening. No one wants to believe they could go blind or have a foot or leg amputated or suffer from kidney failure. Yet, understanding the complications of diabetes soon after diagnosis is the best way to begin preventing them. Maintaining a healthy, proper diet, exercising regularly, and monitoring blood glucose as often as needed are the best first steps.

Additional steps must be taken to delay or prevent the onset of diabetic complications. No one, including people with diabetes, should smoke. Smoking damages the heart and narrows the blood vessels, which are already under stress from the diabetes. Blood pressure must be kept low. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, puts a strain on the body and can cause eye disease to progress faster. Losing weight and exercising, limiting salt for some people, and medications can all lower blood pressure.

People with diabetes should have annual physicals and regular eye exams to spot early signs of complications. They should also get good dental care. Gum infections are common in people with diabetes. Flossing, brushing, and regular dental exams can prevent them. Feet can be a victim of diabetes because cuts and blisters can easily become infected and be slow to heal. Feet should be washed daily in lukewarm water, dried gently, and moistened with lotion. They should be checked daily for blisters, cuts, swelling, and redness.

Drinking alcohol in moderation and always with a meal, for those who drink it (and who are old enough), will help prevent highs and lows in blood sugar. Keeping stress levels as low as possible will help the body to keep insulin working properly.

For people with diabetes, the first step in taking care of themselves is receiving a diagnosis with one of the reliable tests available today. Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, the use of insulin and perhaps oral medications, closely supervised by a doctor, will help them keep their illness under control.

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