What is Diabetes Management?
Proper diabetes management is critical in preventing serious long-term complications. Unmanaged (or poorly managed) diabetes can lead to medical complications as serious as blindness, emergency amputations, or permanent damage to internal organs. Obviously, diabetes management is something every diabetic must take very seriously.
The cornerstone of diabetes management is keeping your blood sugar regulated. All of the other effects of diabetes stem from the effects of high blood sugar. Luckily, today's diabetic has a wide variety of home equipment available for regularly monitoring blood sugar levels. By keeping close track of your blood sugar throughout the day, you can learn your 'normal' responses to your medications, different foods and eating schedules, track the effects of a regular exercise program, and discuss these patterns with your doctor, to adapt the management of your diabetes even more effectively.
A combination of medication and diet
The basis of blood sugar management is usually a combination of medication and diet. type 1 diabetics must take insulin because their body does not produce it properly. Management of type 1 diabetes needs to be very precise, so the diabetic's need for insulin matches the dose they are taking, preventing both high blood sugar and dangerous drops in blood sugar as well (hypoglycemia).
In type 2 diabetes the body gradually becomes resistant to insulin over a span of many years. Although insulin is still produced, the body cannot use it effectively. type 2 diabetics may take pills to help their body become more receptive to insulin.
The glycemic index
In either case becoming familiar with the Glycemic Index, which shows which foods cause blood sugar levels to rise faster than others, is an important part of proper dietary management of diabetes. Foods with a high Glycemic Index will make blood sugar rise very rapidly, and should be avoided. Sugars and refined carbohydrates ('white' pasta, white bread, etc.) are among the things at the top of the list, while whole grains (complex carbohydrates) are lower on the index, and proteins are near the bottom. Becoming familiar with the Glycemic Index, and finding which foods you like are safest for management of your blood sugar can make overall management of your diabetes much easier.
Regular exercise is an important part of long term management of diabetes. Since peripheral neuropathy often has serious effects on muscle mass and control in the arms and legs, muscle-building exercises can be an important way of managing some of the physical effects of diabetes. Developing an effective weight training routine you can do easily in your own home may be easier than going to a gym.
The onset of type 2 diabetes is strongly correlated with being overweight. In some cases, if type 2 diabetes is diagnosed early enough, and it is a mild enough case, proper diet combined with regular exercise may lead to the disappearance of diabetic symptoms. While there is a very strong chance the diabetes will return later in life, adding a few more years of good health will certainly help minimize side effects later in life. While exercise can never 'cure' type 1 diabetes it is still important.
Diabetes management can be a complex process, but understanding the basics of your medication, healthy dietary choices and appropriate and regular exercise will provide a strong foundation for successful management of your diabetes throughout your life.