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How to Prevent Complications of Diabetes
Do you remember how you felt when you were first diagnosed with diabetes? It was like something hit you out of the blue! But in time, you learnt more about your condition, what causes it, what makes it worse, and most importantly how to take care of yourself. Similarly, it is also essential for you to know the complications that can occur when high blood sugar levels are left unchecked for a long time. Some examples of short and long-term health complications include hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar levels), heart disease, nerve damage, vision problems and even amputation.
This article is meant to serve as a ready reckoner for all possible Diabetic Complications so that you can see or spot the first symptoms coming from a mile away.
Here are 12 ways to Avoid and Prevent Diabetes related Complications.
- Have Carbs, but choose which ones : Your body needs carbohydrates and just because you have diabetes, doesn't mean you need to cut them out entirely! Instead, you should choose foods whose carbohydrate content breaks down slowly and gradually giving you a steady source of energy. Don't fret! There's a wide variety of such foods, including fresh vegetables, fruits (even sweet ones), whole grains and nuts, Remember, it is vital that for you to eat the right amount of carbs in each and every one of your meals.
- Lose Weight if needed : If you are overweight, dropping just a few kilos can visibly improve your body's ability to absorb insulin. Start with a basic weight-reduction plan (unless you have a very high BMI and/or your doctor/coach recommends otherwise). By losing weight, not only will you be able to improve your sugar levels and see a reduction in your blood pressure and body fat but also notice that you suddenly have more energy! Cutting out extra fat, sugar, and calories from your diet will have a positive long-lasting impact on your overall health.
- Sleep Well : Are you sure you're clocking in adequate Zzzz's? Scientists say that on an average, you ideally need between Seven and Nine hours of quality sleep every night. Not getting enough rest or oversleeping can have adverse effects on your body. For example : Too little or too much sleep can trigger a domino-like effect by - increasing your appetite - making you crave high-carb foods - causing weight gain and finally leading to risk of heart disease. Which is why you should get any sleep disorders like sleep apnea treated as that will improve your sleep quality and also help lower your blood sugar levels.
- Exercise : Be active. Even 10 - 15 mins a day is a good start and slowly build up to the level where you can yourself see and feel the benefits substantially. It also doesn't matter how or what you do. All that matters is that you get moving. Walk, skip, jump, climb, dance, cycle, march or just stand up and pace around your office or room every time you get a phone call. Exercise not only alleviates your stress levels, but also lowers your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of heart disease. The icing on the cake here is that - with exercise, you may even be able to cut back on diabetes medication and possibly forever!
- Monitor your Blood Sugar regularly : Make it a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth! Checking your blood sugar levels has multiple benefits - it can caution you about the various symptoms indicating diabetes complications, it helps you in taking early action to avoid or reduce diabetes mellitus symptoms severity, it helps you see the effects that different activities and foods have on your sugar levels, it gives you information about whether a specific treatment plan is working for you. Finally it will show you how much you have progressed in your journey and where you stand in terms of reaching your ultimate target or goals.
- Manage Stress : Stress sends your body into a panic mode. This makes your stress hormones shoot up and insulin levels fall down. As you already know, insulin is the key hormone needed to keep your sugar levels stable. But in this case, insulin drops down and causes your blood sugar to rise. That's why you should try to avoid getting physically or mentally stressed. You can learn simple techniques to deal with your stress and try relaxation methods like breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga.
- Minimize Salt intake and Junk Food : Cutting down your salt intake helps in lowering your blood pressure and protects your kidneys. It's important to understand that it's not enough if you just avoid adding extra salt to your cooking or when you're eating. Did you know that a major portion of salt you eat comes from the processed food you consume? Processed food is just another name for what we call ‘junk’ food. It has no nutritional value and contains huge amounts of sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. Some examples of processed or junk foods that you may be consuming without knowing it include ready-to-eat products, processed or cured meats. processed cereals like cornflakes, ketchup and other sauces, chips, snacks. and many other things that all of us love to have. It is recommended that you avoid processed foods altogether or at the least try to consume as little as possible. For those of you over 51 years of age, or having diabetes, high BP or kidney disease, it is highly advised that you fully and completely avoid all salt and try seasoning your food with spices and herbs instead.
- Don't neglect your cuts and bruises and ensure they heal well : Diabetes is sneaky. It raises your risk of infection and slows down healing. If you get hurt, clean the open wound with an antiseptic, treat it with an antibiotic cream and a sterile bandage. Show it to a doctor if it does not heal normally. Keep an eye on your feet every day
- Stop Smoking : Studies have shown that a diabetic smoker has double the risk of early mortality or reduced lifespan when compared with a diabetic non-smoker. By quitting smoking, you can lower blood pressure, risk of stroke, kidney disease, heart attack, and nerve damage. It is advisable to seek professional help to quit tobacco.
- Choose and include Superfoods in your diet : Customize your diet to - Avoid all saturated fat and trans fats. Choose mono and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil. Make superfoods your staple. Berries, fish, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes are perfect. You'll surely enjoy them!
- Communicate with your doctor and personal coach regularly : Consult your doctor at least once a month and your personal coach even more frequently to keep track of your health and successfully manage your condition. Get your HbA1c levels checked once every 3 months and take your doctor and coach’s support in reducing your medication or insulin dosages. Get an annual or biannual dental check-up along with a physical examination to screen for eye, nerve, and kidney damage.
- Take care of your Heart : Diabetes could lead to heart disease. Make sure to get your ABCs checked regularly.
- A : A1C Level -The average of your blood sugar level over three months. Consult your doctor for target levels.
- B : Blood Pressure -Your goal should be below 140/80 Hg. Check it regularly!
- C : Cholesterol - Your goal for LDL should be 100 mg/dl or less, and HDL should be above 40 mg/dl in men and above 50 in women & Triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dl.
Read more about how to prevent diabetes
Table of Contents
What is the Most Common Complication Associated with Diabetes?
Diabetes problems often share risk factors, and one issue might end up speeding up another. Many people with diabetes, for example, have high blood pressure, which exacerbates eye and renal illness. Diabetes raises triglycerides (a kind of blood fat) and LDL (bad) cholesterol while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Heart disease and stroke risk may be increased as a result of these alterations. In persons with diabetes, smoking increases the risk of heart disease.
Some of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus are:
- Cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke
- Blindness or other eye related damage
- Kidney degeneration
- Nerve damage
- Gum disease
- Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
A lot of factors affect whether or not a person will experience these health ailments as well. A person’s genetics, the type of diabetes they have, the medications they are taking, their mental state and well being, their lifestyle pre and post diabetes are all major factors that play a role in the onset of these diseases. If you experience anything out of the ordinary, you must contact your doctor immediately. These complications that arise from diabetes should not be taken lightly as in most conditions they have the potential to turn fatal. Know about medications for diabetes.
Now that you are well-prepared, it's time to take back control and make use of the 12 tips listed above by recognizing, avoiding or all together preventing any complications arising from high blood glucose levels. Reach out to your doctor and personal coach to get your customized treatment and nutrition plan at the earliest. Read more about other diabetes complications like retinopathy and diabetic retinopathy treatment.
1. How long does it take to develop complications from diabetes?
There are two types of complications when it comes to diabetes, chronic and acute. The ones that build gradually over time are called chronic and the ones that may take place anytime are called acute. Chronic complications include eye damage, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, gum disease, etc. these are more common in cases of type 2 diabetes. Acute problems include hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, diabetic ketoacidosis. The time it takes for these complications to develop depends on person to person, what type of diabetes they have and the medication they take as well. All of these factors play an important role in determining what sort of complications will arise.
2. How can you control diabetes early?
Type 2 diabetes which is the most commonly found diabetes is a condition that cannot be cured but it can be managed and even prevented by taking the right steps. One sure shot way to prevent any diabetic complications are making healthy changes in your day to day lifestyle. Prevention is particularly crucial if you are already at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes due to being overweight or obese, having high cholesterol, or having a family history of diabetes. There are several ways you can control diabetes early:
- Losing excess weight will help your body metabolize better
- Make sure you remain physically active throughout the day
- Eating healthy food plays an important role in warding off or managing diabetes
- Eating more healthy fats and avoid eating junk food, processes drinks or sugary items
- Quit drinking alcohol and/or smoking
- Visit your doctor on a regular basis
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.