Keeping your diabetes under control is a serious issue. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many other health problems. It may seem inconvenient to have to monitor your blood sugar multiple times a day, but the alternative is worse. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause vision problems, neuropathy, infections, kidney problems, and it even puts you at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Monitoring your blood sugar regularly and accurately helps you avoid these side effects of diabetes when you respond appropriately to the numbers.
Monitoring Blood Sugar
The first step in keeping these complications at bay is to know your blood sugar levels. Having accurate numbers allows you to respond appropriately. With diabetes, you can’t always rely on how you feel at the moment.
Most people use at-home monitors to test their blood several times a day. Occasionally you may even need to check in the middle of the night. Some meters, like our Prodigy Autocode, have extra features that allow you to download your test results for data graphing. Being able to see your trends can help you predict what you should do at different times of the day.
But if high-tech solutions are not for you, writing down your numbers will still make your job a lot easier. When recording, you should include the time of day, blood sugar level, insulin or pill dose, and any other general notes on your diet and health that day.
How to Respond
But once you have the numbers, what do you do with them?
- Hyperglycemia- if your blood sugar is more than 240 mg/dL, first check for ketones in your urine. Occasionally, someone with high blood sugar can develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is a medical emergency and requires you to go to the emergency room. If your blood sugar is too high, but you are not in danger, just make your next meal high in protein and fiber. Some people think that not eating will bring their levels down, but skipping meals can actually cause your sugar levels to go up due to stress. If your numbers are consistently high, despite lifestyle and diet changes, you will need to talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication.
- Hypoglycemia- Low blood sugar is problematic when it causes you to feel dizzy or faint. If levels get too low, you could even become unconscious. Some people use glucose tablets to bring their sugar levels up quickly, but you can get the same result by drinking a sugary drink, eating some crackers, or having a spoonful of honey. You can test your blood sugar 20 minutes after eating to make sure they are back up to a good level.
For Type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes can be more important than anything else you do. Improving your diet, exercising, and controlling sleep apnea can be the difference between poor health and well-controlled diabetes.
Processed foods made with white flour or lots of sugar seems to be the highest on the Glycemic Index. Eating meat, fresh fruits, and non-starchy veggies is the way to go. If you’re not sure what makes a good meal, you can find charts that rank the Glycemic Load of certain foods. The lower a food is on the glycemic load or index, the less it affects your blood sugar levels.
Exercise can also have quite an impact. Losing five to seven percent of your body weight can stop the advancement of diabetes. But it’s not just about the pounds. What matters the most is where your fat is distributed. People who carry extra fat around their belly are more likely to have diabetic complications. Belly fat increases insulin resistance.
But exercising is also good for other reasons. When you move around and contract your muscles, glucose is pushed out of your blood and into your cells. This leads to better blood sugar numbers.
Controlling sleep apnea is also key. Almost half of people with Type 2 diabetes also have sleep apnea. These two conditions together give you a much higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Diabetes alone raises the chance, but then the stress of apnea at night activates your sympathetic nervous system, increasing that risk even more. Wearing a CPAP machine and losing weight can help keep apnea under control.
Regular monitoring, appropriate immediate responses, and long-term lifestyle changes are the best ways of keeping your diabetes under control. ILA is here to help by offering the diabetes management products that you need.