Every person with diabetes handles their care differently and in a way that best fits their lifestyle. For newly diagnosed or younger patients, it’s important to establish a care plan early on to form healthy habits and ensure proper treatment and the best possible clinical outcome.
An effective care plan is crucial in minimizing otherwise preventable illnesses. Diabetes can lead to heart problems, peripheral vascular disease, and blindness. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the United States among working-aged adults.
Proper care for people with diabetes mainly rests in the hands of the patients themselves. Because this care is self-controlled, it’s crucial that individuals remain informed and aware of recommended guidelines.
We believe that the most effective and holistic diabetes care plans should extend across three main areas: medicine, doctor visits, and lifestyle.
Medication and Monitoring
The goal of all diabetes treatment is to help the body regulate blood sugar. Depending on the diabetes diagnosis, type 1, or type 2, your subsequent medication protocol will vary. For type 1 diabetics, self-administered insulin shots are the typical treatment route.
With type 2 diabetes, treatment plans may start with healthy lifestyle changes or oral medication. In instances where these interventions are not successful in regulating blood sugar levels, those with type 2 diabetes may require insulin therapy.
In both diagnoses, patients will have to consistently monitor and track their blood sugar levels possibly using a meter. Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, this may become a daily practice.
Monitoring blood sugar levels allows you to take action in order to stay in a healthy range. By staying in this range, you drastically reduce the chances of developing health issues and other diabetes-related diseases. Healthy blood sugar levels also directly affect mood and energy levels!
Medicine alone cannot effectively treat a patient with diabetes. When paired with healthy lifestyle choices, however, the success of treatment skyrockets.
By sticking to a balanced diet, people with diabetes will be able to determine how certain foods affect their glucose levels. Typically, doctors will recommend regulating carbohydrates and processed sugar. Because carbs directly affect glucose levels, you never want to be eating too many or too few for your body to properly process.
Diabetic-specific online communities and recipe websites can make your health journey fun and delicious. Try these online food hubs from The American Heart Association or The American Diabetes Association.
Exercise is another key tenant of diabetes care. Doing 30 minutes of physical activity a day and losing 7% of your body weight can lower diabetes risk by half. As someone already diagnosed with diabetes, regular physical activity helps with blood sugar control and insulin regulation.
While physical health is important, mental health must also be incorporated into treatment plans. These initiatives are sometimes brushed over in diabetes care plans, but recognizing the role of mental health leads to a more holistic, fruitful healing process.
Dealing with the disease or the day-to-day of diabetes management can become overwhelming for some. By taking daily stock of your mental health and practicing activities like journaling or meditation, the various emotions surrounding diabetes can be managed. Ultimately, it’s important to be honest about how you’re feeling and to always reach out to a professional when needed.
Scheduling Doctor Visits
Aside from all the at-home work diabetics will do to manage their condition, proper care must also include visits with experts to provide guidance for optimal care. Routine doctor's visits are a key element in diabetes care, as it allows patients to evaluate the success of current practices and adjust care plans as necessary.
Patients with diabetes will often manage the majority of their care through a primary care doctor. These medical professionals provide routine check-ins, physical exams, lab tests, and prescribe medication.
However, it’s also smart to establish an outside team of specialists who you can visit routinely or as issues arise. Dieticians can provide recommendations to successfully improve your diet. Additionally, it’s crucial for diabetes patients to undergo annual eye exams to ensure there are no signs of diabetic retinopathy, an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness. All individuals with diabetes would benefit from a relationship with an ophthalmologist or health care provider that offers diagnostic retinal imaging. This way, the eye can be examined for diabetic damage. If identified and treated early, almost all vision loss can be prevented or reversed. If not yet present, further exams can be scheduled to ensure no eye diseases develop.
Benefits of a diabetes care plan
While a diabetes diagnosis may seem overwhelming or even scary, it’s important to remember that with proper care and planning, you’re able to live a full life. Managing diabetes requires daily effort, but once these habits become a part of your routine, you’ll find yourself feeling healthier, stronger, and more energized.
Always be sure to consult with your doctor before altering your diabetes care plan, and frequently check in with professionals if you notice anything out of the ordinary in your health.
By balancing medication, medical professionals, and physical and mental health, you’ll lower the risk of issues associated with diabetes and live life to the fullest.
IRIS is developing retinal imaging services in the fight to save eyesight. Learn more here.
Looking to learn more about Diabetic Retinopathy? Check out our latest blog for more info.
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