Diabetes  |  Published February 16, 2023

The Fundamentals of Diabetes Care

Know the things you can do to keep the complications of diabetes at bay.

Diabetes can affect many parts of the body. People with the disease are at a higher risk for serious health problems. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels, controlling your blood pressure and getting an annual eye exam can prevent or delay complications from the disease.

Get the A1C Test

Keeping an eye on your blood sugar is one of the most important ways to manage diabetes. There are two ways to measure your blood sugar. The first is a blood sugar check you can do yourself. It shows your blood sugar level at the time of the test. The second is the A1C test, which is done in a lab or at your doctor’s office. It measures average blood sugar levels over a period of three months. The A1C test shows how well your diabetes treatment plan is working or if you and your doctor need to make changes. People with diabetes get this test at least twice a year. Some need the test more often if they don’t meet their goals or if there are changes in their diabetes treatment plans. Your doctor will tell you how often you need the test. He or she will also help determine your personal A1C goal.  

Control Your Blood Pressure

People with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease. They are at a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney disease. Controlling your blood pressure is an important way to protect your heart health and prevent diabetes complications.
 
If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to find a treatment plan. Treatment may include healthy lifestyle changes and prescribed medicine. Lifestyle changes may include eating a healthy diet, getting physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.

Get an Eye Exam

Diabetes can harm your vision. A common complication is diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar and high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in your retina and lead to permanent vision loss. People with diabetes are also at risk for cataracts and glaucoma. The good news is finding and treating problems early can help protect your eyesight.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam at least once each year. During the exam, your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to enlarge your pupils. This will help your doctor see into your eyes and check for problems.
 
You should let your doctor know if you have any changes in your vision, including:

  • Having blurry vision.
  • Seeing black lines or spots.
  • Seeing red spots or red fog.
  • Seeing rings around lights or flashing lights.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an independent organization that provides health information you may find helpful.

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