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A diabetes game plan

Although there’s no cure for diabetes, you can learn how to decrease your risk of complications with good diabetes self-management. Consider yourself captain of a team of healthcare providers, which should include a diabetes educator. Work with your team to tailor a program you can follow throughout the year, breaking down what you need to do daily, weekly, monthly and annually.

Use the schedule below as a model for your self-care diabetes program, adding any other guidelines you and your team have agreed you should follow:

Every day

  • Self-monitor and log your blood glucose. There’s no “right” number of times to test. At certain times, such as when you’re first diagnosed, you’ll benefit from testing several times a day to help get your blood glucose in your healthy range.
  • Keep track of your medications. Understand your team’s recommendations for dosages and timing.
  • Eat well. Careful eating is an essential key to self-management.
  • Exercise. Frequent activity is important for weight control and general health.
  • Examine your feet. Because you’re prone to numbness, infections and poor circulation, your feet are vulnerable to health problems that should be caught early.

Every week to every month

  • Weigh yourself. Maintaining a normal weight makes it easier to achieve good blood glucose control.
  • Build and follow a healthy meal plan. Planning menus and shopping ahead of time will save you from having to throw together last-minute meals that may not fit into a healthy diet.
  • Find a diabetes support group for camaraderie and practical tips. Ask your doctor to recommend a group or visit the American Diabetes Association Web site at www.diabetes.org for resources. If you think you may be suffering from a serious inability to cope, ask your physician for a referral to a mental health professional.

Every three to six months

  • Schedule a doctor’s visit to monitor your diabetes and routine. Your doctor should:
    • —Do a hemoglobin A1c blood test, which measures the amount of glucose in your blood.
    • —Weigh you.
    • —Take your blood pressure. People with diabetes are susceptible to heart disease, and this screening is an important indicator of heart health.
    • —Conduct a medical foot exam.
  • Schedule a dental exam. People with diabetes tend to be prone to gum disease and infection.

Every year

  • Be sure your primary doctor:
    • —Tests your urine for any sign of kidney disease.
    • —Screens your blood for cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
    • —Gives you a flu shot and updates pneumonia, tetanus and hepatitis B vaccinations. Illness raises blood glucose levels and increases your chances of infection.
  • Get an eye exam. Diabetes puts you at risk for vision complications.