Diabetes is a disease wherein the body is unable to respond to or produce insulin hormone. This results in elevated blood glucose levels in the body and an abnormal carbohydrate metabolism. Diabetes usually presents itself with increased thirst, increased hunger and frequent urination. We will discuss why self-care in diabetes mellitus holds so much importance for the patient.
Diabetes mellitus can cause several complications if it is left untreated for long. Increased risk of heart diseases, skin problems, foot ulcers, eye damage, nerve damage and chronic kidney failure are some of those. Hence, it is important to manage diabetes mellitus well, with medications and appropriate diet and lifestyle. Know all about self-care in diabetes mellitus to manage the condition, live healthy and prevent its complications.
There are 3 major types of diabetes mellitus (DM) which are:
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus where the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus which starts with insulin resistance in which the cells of our body do not respond to insulin properly.
- Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman with or without a history of diabetes develops high levels of blood sugar, during pregnancy.
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus
Being a life-long or chronic disease, diabetes can never be cured completely. When suffering from it, the sugar from the food eaten stays in the blood thereby causing the sugar levels to increase rapidly.
Though there are many effective medicines for the disease, receiving proper education and awareness about it is also vital and so is self-care in diabetes mellitus. Having proper control over your blood sugar level is of utmost importance. By learning self-care in diabetes mellitus and following certain basic steps, you can control the extent of the disease to a large extent. It can help you remain healthy and avoid complications, which may otherwise arise in diabetes.
As a part of self-care in diabetes mellitus, regular blood tests are done to ensure blood sugar levels and cholesterol stay in check. Moreover, your blood pressure should also be in a healthy range. You might be advised to meet a dietician, diabetes pharmacist and diabetes educator for a better understanding of the disease and know improvised ways to handle the disease.
Here are some of the best tips for self-care in diabetes mellitus:
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus #1: Eating Healthy
The most important part of self-care in diabetes mellitus is to eat healthy. Foods rich in simple carbohydrates and sugar should be avoided to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels. Also avoid alcohol and aerated drinks which too can affect your blood sugar. Avoid all sweet, junk, processed and refined foods.
A balanced meal with loads of fiber and protein is exactly what your body needs. Also eat small meals throughout the day. Choose complex carbs like whole grains, vegetables and fruits for fiber, low fat dairy and lean meats. Most importantly, drink plenty of water. You can also carry fruits or dry fruits in your snack box to have it on your way to avoid sudden low blood sugar levels.
You can plan a healthy diet chart with the help of your physician or consult a dietician. Follow it regularly with an aim to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus #2: Exercising Regularly
Regular exercise is a must for you and is the most crucial part of self-care in diabetes mellitus. Exercising not only helps keep the blood sugar levels low but also improves blood circulation. It helps keep blood pressure in check and also help in relaxation and keep stress under control. Also, exercising at least 5 to 6 times a week helps burn those extra calories thereby keeping your weight in check. Some of the best exercises for you are biking, jogging or walking for 40 to 50 minutes every day.
Always opt for those exercises which you enjoy. Self-care for diabetes mellitus also includes maintaining proper hydration during exercises. You can carry water and juice with you during exercise to have at regular intervals.
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus #3: Manage Your Weight
Managing ideal body weight is an essential part of self-care in diabetes mellitus. You can achieve this by eating right, choosing healthy foods that promote weight loss and by exercising regularly.
If you are overweight, you may have to take extra efforts to reduce your weight, so that the risk of diabetes complications is lowered. Extremely obese people can consider seeking medical advice and weight-loss surgeries, if required.
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus #4: Keep A Check on Your Blood Sugar Level
Regularly checking your blood glucose level is very important for your self-care in diabetes mellitus. You can use home use devices and glucose meter to check your blood sugar level at home easily. It gives accurate blood sugar readings and is very simple to use. It tells you whether your exercises, diet and medicines are doing its job or not. Alternately, you can visit a doctor or nurse who will check your blood sugar levels at regular intervals.
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus #5: Take Medicines on Time
This is another important part of self-care in diabetes mellitus. In many cases, just exercising and dieting is not enough as you might also have to take appropriate medications to control blood sugar. Different diabetes medicines work differently to control your sugar levels and sometimes your doctor might advise more than one medicine for your condition.
In most cases, oral medications are given, while for some, insulin injection may have to be given. When it becomes a regular task, taking injection may have to be done at home. This is also an important part of self-care in diabetes mellitus. It is necessary to learn the correct technique and proper hygiene standards when taking insulin injections at home.
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus #6: Planning Pregnancy
Self-care in diabetes mellitus also includes pregnancy planning and preparation of your health condition. If you are planning pregnancy while having diabetes, talk to your doctor about it. There may be a need to change certain medicines or adjust dosages, considering forthcoming pregnancy. People with advanced stage of diabetes, where blood sugar levels are extremely high, may have to take insulin which is injected in the skin directly. You can train yourself to take these injections or get it from a nurse.
Self-Care in Diabetes Mellitus #7: Prevent Diabetes-Related Issues
If you are diabetic, the chances of having high cholesterol or blood pressure increases tremendously. You might need to take medicines for the same. Self-care in diabetes mellitus also includes preventing such disorders with appropriate diet and exercise. Follow a healthy lifestyle and quit smoking as it can make your condition worse. Diabetes affects nerves and can alter the skin sensation, which increases the risk of foot problems and non-healing injuries or ulcers. So, take special care of your feet by keeping them clean every day and do not ignore any wound or skin lesion. Always take your medicines on time and ensure that you eat healthy every day for the rest of your life. Plan regular follow-ups and for any unexpected complaint, see your doctor.
Diabetes is a dangerous disease which needs to be fought with every single day of your life. Self-care in diabetes mellitus is one of the most important steps towards a healthy life as you can best help yourself to overpower the disease and not let it control your life. Simple every day measures can help keep your blood sugar levels in check and complications at bay.