Living With Type 2 Diabetes
A Type 2 diabetes diagnosis can be scary. It is a serious condition that can have major health impacts if left untreated, including heart disease and stroke. When diagnosed early and managed correctly, many patients live long, healthy lives. Managing Type 2 diabetes primarily involves lifestyle changes and regular screening. Although, medication may be required in some cases.
For most people, Type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet, exercise, reaching and/or maintaining a healthy weight, cultivating some healthy habits, and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive drinking.
- Healthy Diet: People with Type 2 diabetes should aim to eat more whole-foods and reduce their consumption of processed foods. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy oils is recommended. Some people may also need to lower or monitor their carbohydrate intake.
- Physical Activity: Staying active throughout the day can help to control your blood sugar level. Therefore, people with diabetes should avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Make sure you get up and move around regularly throughout the day in addition to incorporating some daily exercise. Aim for 30 minutes per day. It can be as simple as taking a walk, or you can opt for more vigorous exercise like running, hiking, biking, swimming or cardio workouts at home or the gym. Resistance training is also important. Whether you use weights, resistance bands or your own body weight, be sure to incorporate strength training at least twice a week.
- Healthy Weight: If you are overweight or obese, your doctor will recommend weight loss, which requires a calorie deficit. You will need to eat fewer calories, increase your activity level or a combination of the two. Try eating smaller portions and replacing high-calorie foods with low-calorie options.
- Smoking: Tobacco usage increases the risk for complications from diabetes, so quitting is one of the most significant lifestyle changes that you can make if you currently smoke. Ask your doctor for help if you find it difficult to quit.
- Drinking: Alcohol can affect your blood sugar level, so it is important to watch how much and what type of alcohol you drink. Stick to the recommended guidelines, and check your blood sugar level after drinking.
- Hygiene: Diabetes can cause problems with your teeth and gums, as well as your feet. Make sure you practice good dental hygiene by brushing and flossing twice daily. Check your feet for swelling, redness or sores that don’t heal. Make sure to wash your feet daily.
If your blood sugar level cannot be managed with lifestyle changes, you might need medication. Your doctor may prescribe drugs or insulin therapy to lower your insulin levels. Likewise, if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure that does not respond to diet and exercise, you may also require medication for those conditions.
Regular Checkups & Monitoring
Monitoring your blood sugar level at home is a big part of managing your diabetes. Your doctor will advise you on how often to check your blood sugar level. You will need to use a blood glucose meter to measure your level, and keep a record of your results. If you have high blood pressure, regular monitoring with a home device may also be needed.
Managing Type 2 diabetes also requires regular screening to make sure your blood sugar level target is being maintained, as well as your overall health.
Regular checkups may include:
- A1C level test
- Blood glucose level test
- Cholesterol test
- Kidney function test
- Physical exam, including blood pressure check, eyes, teeth/gums and feet
The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.