If you are a diabetic, you know that managing your blood sugar is one of the most important things you can do for your health. By taking your medication, monitoring your blood sugar levels, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, you ensure that excess blood sugar does not damage your nerves and blood vessels. You can significantly reduce the risks of kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, and blindness that are often associated with diabetes.
Although blood sugar levels are important, they aren’t the only concern. For one thing, even with a great treatment protocol, it’s still possible for your blood sugar levels to occasionally rise above normal levels; and even occasional spikes can affect your health. In addition to maintaining your blood sugar, you also need to take care of the parts of your body that are often affected by diabetes: your feet, your teeth, your eyes, and your urologic system.
Managing Your Diabetes
By now you already know how important it is to follow your treatment protocol, including taking regular blood sugar readings. You also need to make sure that you have ample supplies on hand to do the job properly. For example, some people reuse their insulin syringes and lancets. While some resources indicate that this is possible, it’s a good idea to use fresh supplies whenever possible, to prevent the risk of infection. Reusing supplies can also make them dull, which can make taking blood sugar readings, and administering injections, more painful.
If you are not able to get to your regular pharmacy to stock up, you can order them from an online pharmacy or you can order supplies like test strips and insulin syringes at adwdiabetes.com.
Diabetes and Your Feet
People with diabetes are especially prone to foot problems. Even intermittent spikes in blood sugar can damage the blood vessels, especially the tiny vessels in your fingers and toes. Sugar can also damage the nerves in your feet and hands.
Nerve damage can result in a loss of sensation, which means you could injure your hands or feet and not feel int. Blood vessel damage can result in reduced
circulation, which means wounds take longer to heal and you have an increased risk of infection.
If you get an injury on your hand, you will most likely notice it, even if you don’t feel it. However, if it happens on your feet, you could go for days, and even weeks, without noticing, which puts you at greater risk for developing gangrene. As a diabetic, you need to take special care of your feet including:
· Checking your feet each day, for cuts and abrasions;
· Washing your feet every day, and drying them thoroughly. This means actually lathering up and scrubbing your feet, not just letting them get wet in the shower. If you can’t balance to wash your feet, try one of those foot scrubber brushed that you mount on the floor of your shower;
· Keeping your feet moisturized and your toenails trimmed;
· Wearing shoes and socks, and avoiding open-toed shoes; and,
· Protecting your feet temperature extremes, which could lead to burns or frostbite without you knowing it
You might also need to schedule regular visits with a podiatrist that specializes in diabetic foot care.
Diabetes and Your Teeth In an earlier post we talked about the importance of good oral health, and it is especially important for people with diabetes. Having diabetes makes you more prone to tooth decay and periodontal disease, due to dry mouth and poor circulation to the blood vessels that feed the teeth. There is also a link between blood sugar levels and the amount of bacteria on your teeth and gum. As a diabetic, you need to take special care of your teeth, including:
· Brushing and flossing at least twice a day, every day;
· Having regular dental checkups;
· Making sure that dentures fit properly;
· Using dental products that are specially formulated to treat dry mouth; and,
· Keeping dentures clean.
You should also be aware of dental warning signs such as bleeding gums, dry mouth, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. Consult with your dentist if you notice any of these warning signs.
Diabetes and the Eyes Diabetes can cause several eye problems including cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness from damage to the optic nerve, or to the blood vessels in the retina.
In addition to following your doctor’s treatment protocol, you should have an eye exam at least once a year. If you have existing eye problems, your eye doctor could recommend more frequent visits.
Consult your eye doctor immediately if you notice any sudden vision changes or eye pain.
Diabetes and the Urologic System
You might be aware that diabetes can cause kidney damage, but you might not know that it can affect your urologic system in other ways as well.
In men, diabetes can contribute to erectile dysfunction and retrograde ejaculation; in women, it can contribute to decreased sexual desire and sexual response, vaginal dryness, and painful intercourse. In both sexes it can cause urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections.
By managing your blood sugar, you can prevent or seriously reduce your risk of developing these urologic problems.
If you do notice issues with sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence, or frequent urinary tract infections, consult your physician as quickly as possible.