Management Tips for Diabetics
Diabetes is a lifelong disease, but, with education and lifestyle changes, it is also highly manageable.
Below are some tips from Scott & White specialists on how to stay healthy and prevent diabetes-related complications. For more tips and information from our providers, visit our blog at community.sw.org.
"Our focus is on prevention. We don't want to wait until you have a disastrous complication," says J. Marshall Devall, DPM, Podiatrist. "Get control of your sugars, your weight, your diet and prevent problems before they start."
Schedule regular recommended health screeningsSchedule regular recommended health screenings
Routine screenings by healthcare professionals is vital to diabetes maintenance. These screenings help to prevent and monitor complications.
Maintain a healthy weightMaintain a healthy weight
"High-fat, high-sugar diets, coupled with sedentary lifestyles, often raise cholesterol and glucose levels and increases blood pressure, increasing the risk for heart disease, stroke and a host of other problems," Dr. Devall says. "Many of the side effects of a poor diet can be reversed if people just tighten control of their diets."
Eating more fruits and vegetables and choosing lower-fat meats, such as chicken and turkey, will enable your body to better respond to insulin, which in turn will it easier for you to exercise. It will also aid in maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Don't smokeDon't smoke
Education and Support
In addition to reviewing your diabetes treatment plan with your physician, diabetes nurse educator Barbara Buckles, RN, CDE, recommends participating in a formal diabetes education program annually and regularly attending a diabetes support group.
"Sometimes a person’s status has changed, they are beginning new therapies, or just need a refresher course," Buckles says. "Education is the key. If you know your blood sugar levels are borderline and you don’t do anything about it, diabetes will eventually happen to you. Understanding the disease and doing everything you can to prevent or delay its onset is the best medicine"
Diabetes self-management classesDiabetes self-management classes
The Scott & White Education Center provides diabetes self-management classes to help patients and families cope with type 2 diabetes. The six-month program covers topics such as healthy eating and exercise, foot care, stress management and glucose monitoring.
Diabetes support groupsDiabetes support groups
This support network for adults with type 1 and 2 diabetes provides a place for people coping with diabetes to give and receive support in dealing with a condition that can be demanding and challenging. Through group discussion and lectures from specialists, you can share your experiences, gain support and understanding, and improve your diabetes self-care.
With poor circulation and loss of sensation in your feet, it’s easy for ulcerations (or chronic wounds) to develop. These diabetic foot ulcers develop when you get a small sore on the sole of your foot, and with poor circulation, oxygenated blood (or antibiotics) doesn’t make it there to help it heal; or with neuropathy, you’re unaware you have a wound and it festers and grows.
Diabetic foot ulcers are the primary cause of hospitalization for people with diabetes. They’re also "a contributing factor in more than 85 percent of all diabetes-related amputations,"says J. Marshall Devall, DPM, Podiatrist.
To help prevent the foot problems associated with diabetes, Dr. Devall offers these three tips for diabetic foot health:
Perform self-assessmentsPerform self-assessments
Checking your feet every night is vital in finding the problems leading to foot ulcerations that can cause infection, hospitalization, amputation or death. Prevention is far easier than treatment.
To inspect your feet effectively, Dr. Devall suggests examining your feet every day — preferably at night — for:
- Open wounds
- Foreign material
If you can’t lift your leg up to get a good view, place a mirror on the floor and sit on the edge of your bed (store the mirror under the bed and slide it out with your foot when you need it). If you have poor vision, have your spouse, partner, child, grandchild or friend check your feet for you.
"Be aggressive in checking your feet. We don’t want you to wait until you have a disastrous complication," advises Dr. Devall.
Take care of your feetTake care of your feet
In addition to performing nightly self-assessments, Dr. Devall recommends having a professional trim your toenails and remove corns and calluses monthly.
Also wear properly fitted shoes to offload your weight.
See a podiatrist routinelySee a podiatrist routinely
"You should be seen once a year for a complete evaluation to check everything from circulation to nerve supply to everything. Your podiatrist will then put you in a risk category," explains Dr. Devall.
"The risk category system is a paradigm for treatment. Risk Level 0 means you have good circulation and no loss of protective sensation; you have pretty good feet," says Dr. Devall.
"Risk Level 3, on the other hand, means you have previous ulceration, where we would be wanting to see you, depending on what the problem is," details Dr. Devall, "anywhere from every month to every three months."
Don't self-manage woundsDon't self-manage wounds
Don't treat open wounds, stickers, burrs, splinters, etc. on your own. Foot wounds in patients with diabetes can progress from minor to serious very quickly. Seek immediate professional treatment from your primary care physician or podiatrist when you have a sore or wound on your foot.