10 things diabetics must always keep handy
Diabetes can be controlled
Diabetes, once it develops, cannot be cured. Having said that, there is a lot you can do to keep the disease at a manageable level. Regularly monitoring your health and taking sensible precautions will help you to live as normal a life as possible. These are ten important tools that can help you – depending on the status of your condition –, that you should always keep within easy reach.
During diabetes, the body is unable to utilize insulin created in the pancreas to convert blood sugar into energy, leading to high blood sugar levels in the blood. An important way to enable this is to ensure a low glycemic diet (GI below 55) to avoid harmful spikes in blood sugar. Diabetics are also advised foods low on refined carbs, fat and calories. A food chart is therefore an essential tool to help you make an informed choice while eating.
Diabetes results in increased, and fluctuating, sugar levels in the blood. Constant monitoring is therefore required to help keep them in check. The way to do this at home is by using a device called a glucometer. There are different types of glucometers available in the market for you to choose from. However, be sure to follow your doctor’s advice regarding when and how you should use it.
Diabetes management often includes medication, either to induce pancreas to make more insulin or to restrain the liver from releasing glucose, to help the body transport glucose to its cells to be used as fuel. Further, medicines may also be required to treat the complications arising from diabetes. It is therefore important that you keep a ready stock of the medicines you require and take them on schedule.
Some diabetics (more so those with type 1 diabetes) may be prescribed insulin therapy, involving regular insulin injection. In most cases insulin is self-administered by the affected person, or in the case of children, by parents or guardians. Many options are available including insulin pens and insulin pumps, these being ideal for children with diabetes. Your doctor will advise on the best one for you.
First aid box
Diabetes narrows blood vessels, hampering circulation and delaying healing of wounds. Small bruises or cuts, especially on the legs, can become infected or gangrenous, sometimes necessitating amputation as an extreme measure. To avoid this it is important that you keep a first aid box handy – with antiseptic ointments, gauze bandages, a roll of cotton and antibiotics – to enable you to attend to any wounds immediately. Consult a doctor if you find that a wound is not healing normally.
Diabetes causes peripheral neuropathy, (damage to nerves connected to the spinal cord) leading to sensation loss in the feet. Affected people fail to realize and treat wounds on their feet, or form calluses and corns that cause internal hemorrhage, leading to ulcers. Combined with the delayed healing described earlier, the result can be disastrous. To prevent such problems, all diabetics must invest in protective, well-fitting shoes that are adequately cushioned inside.
Dental care kit
Diabetes also adversely affects oral health, leading to problems such as tooth decay and gum disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis. However you can prevent these by ensuring a proper dental hygiene routine. Use a soft bristled tooth brush to brush at least twice a day and use dental floss at least once a day to remove all lodged food residue that can trigger problems.
Insulin or medicines used in diabetes for increasing insulin production can cause hypoglycemia or drastic drop in blood sugar levels. The results can be serious with disorientation, fainting, seizures or even death. The only solution is to take some sugar through food or drink immediately. It is therefore important that you carry some sugar or candy to counter sudden hypoglycemia.
Diabetes can lead to an increase of ketones in the body (produced when it burns fat instead of sugar as fuel). In extreme cases this can cause ketoacidosis, a serious condition leading to diabetic coma or death. Rare in type 2 diabetes, this is more a concern during type 1 or juvenile diabetes. If you are advised to test for ketones, you will need a stock of ketone strips. In case of a positive result, you should immediately consult your doctor.
Diabetic Identification badge
Diabetes can cause many complications, some of which, such as ketoacidosis or hypoglycemia, may be sudden. If you are diabetic, wearing a badge identifying your condition will enable those around you, including medical professionals, to help you better. Your diabetic identification badge should also include a couple of emergency contacts, so that your family or friends can be easily notified if necessary.
Image: Flickr Creative commons rachellynnae