10 Self-Care Strategies for Diabetes

1. A1C:

A1C is a test that doctors use to measure your average blood sugar control for the past 2-3 months. Your goal should be an A1C of less than 7%. Have your doctor check your A1C at least twice a year, or more frequently if your blood sugar is not well controlled.

2. Blood Glucose Monitoring:

Checking your blood sugars will let you know how well your diet and medications are working. It is normal for your blood sugars to rise and fall throughout the day, so it is important to talk with your doctor about when to check your blood sugars. Blood Glucose Targets: Fasting or before meals – 70-130 mg/dl; two hours after the start of a meal or snack – less than 180 mg/dl.

3. Blood Pressure:

The combination of high blood pressure and diabetes can put you at higher risks for heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Remember to take your blood pressure pills daily. Try to keep your blood pressure lower than 130/80 mmHg.

4. Cholesterol:

Keeping your cholesterol in check can help lower your risks of heart disease and stroke. Have your doctor check your cholesterol routinely. For more accurate cholesterol test results, avoid eating for 8 hours before you have your blood drawn.

5. Quit Smoking:

Quitting smoking greatly decreases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the products available to help you quit smoking. Over the counter medications include nicotine chewing gum, lozenges or patches. Prescription options include: Buproprion SR (Zyban®), Varenicline (Chantix®), and nicotine inhaler or nasal spray.

6. Daily Foot Exams:

Check your feet daily for cuts, infections, sores, and make sure toenails are trimmed and kept clean routinely. If you notice any cuts, discolored skin, rashes, or sores that do not go away after 3-5 days, please notify your doctor.

7. Diet/Exercise:

Simple changes like these can help you live a healthier life with diabetes – Exercising 30-45 minutes three to four times a week; limiting alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day; reading the nutritional labels on food products to help monitor your intake of sodium and fat.

8. Hypoglycemia:

When your blood sugar is too low, you may experience dizziness, sweating, trembling, fast heartbeat, and wet clammy fingers. Treat these symptoms of hypoglycemia with the “Rule of 15’s.”

  • Eat 15 grams of carbs (i.e. ½ cup orange juice or non-diet soda, 1 tablespoon honey, syrup or sugar, 6 to 10 lifesavers, 1 glass of milk)
  • Wait 15 minutes, then recheck your blood sugar
  • If you’re blood sugar is still low, eat another 15 grams of carbs and repeat step #2
  • If your blood sugar is still low after repeating steps 1 through 3 twice, call your doctor or 911
9. Regular Check-ups & Immunizations:

  • Comprehensive dilated eye exam annually
  • Dental exams every 6 months
  • Monofilament foot exam yearly to check for nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy
  • Flu shots yearly
  • Pneumonia vaccine once if less than 65 years old; Repeat vaccine if greater than 64 years old and  if first vaccine was given more than 5 years ago
10. Medication Adherence:

Medications play an important role in your health and they work best when they are taken correctly.  If you don’t take your medications as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist, they will not work as well as they should. It is important to follow the directions for each medication so you’ll get the most from them and stay in better health.

Visit Triahealth.com or call our Tria Help Desk at 1.888.799.TRIA (8742) for more information.

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