Manage your Diabetes

Managing your diabetes doesn’t have to be daunting. Taking a proactive approach to monitoring your blood glucose levels, looking after your feet and taking care of your eye health can all make a difference to how well your condition is managed.

How could diabetes affect you?

Glucose provides your body with energy and when you eat the glucose levels in your blood increase. At this time your body releases a hormone called insulin which makes sure your glucose level doesn’t get too high. If you have diabetes you either produce too little insulin or your body resists its effects, so unused glucose builds up in your blood.

Type 1 Diabetes

Generally develops in people under the age of 40, in fact half of people with type 1 diabetes in the UK are diagnosed under the age of 15 and 90% are diagnosed by 30*. The symptoms can develop suddenly and include shaking and sweating, thirstiness and weight loss. Treatment is with insulin, as well as a healthy diet and exercise.

Type 2 Diabetes

Usually develops in people over 40. With less obvious symptoms it develops relatively slowly and often goes unnoticed. It can be treated successfully with a healthy balanced diet and physical activity, and sometimes the addition of tablets or insulin injections may be necessary.

Over 3 million people are diagnosed with diabetes

How can you best control your Type 1 diabetes ?

The best way is to review and understand your blood glucose results. Keeping your levels under control as effectively as possible can help you live your life to the fullest.

know your levels

9mmol/l and above

This means your blood glucose level is too high. Over sustained periods this could increase your chances of developing complications. If this happens there is no need to worry, use your blood glucose monitor to see if you need to take more insulin. If your levels remain high, check your blood for ketones which may be present as they indicate lack of insulin. You may need to increase the amount of insulin you take or take an extra dose if advised by your GP.

4 - 7mmol/l (before meals) and 5 - 9mmol/l (90 mins after meals)

The optimum range for your blood glucose levels. Keeping this level of control also reduces the chances of developing complications in the future.

Less than 4mmol/l

Your blood glucose levels have dropped too low. You may be experiencing a hypoglycaemic attack, usually referred to as a ‘hypo’.

The common signs of a ‘hypo’ are:

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Lack of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Looking pale

If this happens:

Sit down and test your blood glucose level. Eat something sugary such as glucose tablets or jelly babies to raise your blood sugar quickly. After 10 minutes, check your blood glucose again. Then take a longeracting carbohydrate such as a biscuit or a sandwich to keep your blood glucose from dropping again.

How can you best control your Type 2 diabetes?

Make sure your blood glucose levels are well controlled to reduce the risk of developing further health problems. Regular checks can be done with either your GP, a nurse or you can test at home using a glucose monitor.

Your aim is to keep blood glucose levels as near to the optimum level as possible:

  • •4-7 mmol/l before meals
  • Less than 8.5mmol/l two hours after a meal

Keep an accurate record of your test results so that you can spot any patterns in your readings and use them to improve your treatment.

Blood glucose monitoring

Why not keep a diabetes diary as you may be able to spot some patterns? Is there a particular time of day, or day of the week when your levels peak? Also record if you’re feeling tired, need to urinate frequently, you’re extra thirsty or suffer from headaches, as these symptoms may indicate hyperglycaemia.

Most glucose monitors provide a 14 and 30 day average result so that you can see how well you’ve controlled your levels over that length of time, and help you manage your diabetes.

How often should I check my glucose levels

There are certain occasions when you need to check your blood sugar levels more frequently:

  • Before and during driving
  • When you’re ill
  • With major changes to your food intake
  • With high weight loss or gain (more than 7lbs/4kg)
  • When exercising vigorously
  • When trying for a baby or if you’re pregnant
  • If you start or change insulin
  • If you’re regularly having ‘hypos’ or ‘hypers’

What are the complications and conditions that come with diabetes?

Too much glucose in your body can damage nerves, organs and blood vessels.

This can lead to long term complications such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Eye damage (even blindness)
  • Kidney failure
  • Nerve damage
  • Leg ulcers
  • Foot disease

However, if you keep monitoring your glucose, taking your medicine and making healthy lifestyle changes, you may be able to keep these conditions at bay.

we recommend

Diabetes affects the nerves in the feet which means you can lose any sensation of pain, so cuts and other damage can go unnoticed. It also effects the healing process, therefore the combined effect is a potential increase in the risk of infection. It’s really important to take very good care of your feet, so ask us about our FREE Foot Check Advice Service where you can talk to our healthcare team about the simple, everyday things you can do to keep your feet as healthy as they can be.

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we can test

Monitoring these levels are a crucial part of controlling your diabetes. We offer a blood pressure test that is completely FREE, while there’s a small charge for the cholesterol test. But more than that, we can help with advice about lifestyle changes that can help lower both your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels which are important to control if you have diabetes. Just ask our healthcare team.

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