Managing Diabetes

Jun 14, 2024 | 2024, Health and Wellness

Diabetes is more common than one might think. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects about one in ten people in the United States. Diabetes is a medical condition when the body does not make enough insulin — a hormone made in the pancreas that allows the body to use glucose (sugar) for energy or when the body cannot correctly use the insulin it makes to control blood sugar levels. As a result, blood sugar levels are higher than normal without proper treatment.

Most people know that caring for diabetes requires checking blood sugar levels regularly and following a healthy diet, but there are other aspects to caring for diabetes that can be just as important. This includes, but is not limited to, yearly diabetic-related heart, foot and eye care.

Heart Care

Individuals with diabetes are two times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke than others who do not have diabetes. Routine follow up care can help detect and treat conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and possible damage to blood vessels or the heart itself.

Providers will order and monitor blood tests at least once each year to evaluate a person’s condition. This can include a blood sugar test, known as the hemoglobin A1c, as well as other tests to check cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

If needed, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can help manage diabetes and lower risks for heart disease. If these changes are not enough, providers may also prescribe drugs to control blood pressure, cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Foot Care

Over time, diabetes can damage nerves. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy. It can occur in any body part, but it most often affects the nerves in the legs and feet. The nerve damage can reduce the ability to feel sensations like pain, heat or cold. Reduced sensations make it easier to injure oneself without realizing it. Untreated injuries can lead to open wounds and infections.

An annual visit to review one’s foot health can reduce the risk of diabetes-related amputation up to 85 percent. It’s important for those affected by diabetes to check their feet daily at home for cuts, swelling, redness, or other changes and contact their provider if there are any noticeable changes between visits.

Eye Care

Diabetes can also affect eyesight due to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This condition can start slowly and may not show symptoms at first. Eventually, one’s vision may grow impaired. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can ultimately cause blindness. People with diabetes are also more likely to develop other types of vision issues, such as cataracts or glaucoma.

Yearly visits for eye exams and vision tests can help prevent complications and reduce risks of diabetes-related blindness up to 90 percent.

Good diabetes management comes from education about the disease, monitoring one’s health through regular exams with a physician and healthy lifestyle habits. Sutter Health Plus offers care management for diabetes and other chronic conditions through the Sutter Health Care Management Program. You can call the Care Management program at 844-987-6095 to enroll or find out more information.