When you or a loved one receives a new diagnosis of diabetes, the first reaction is a mix of denial, fear and not knowing what to do next. Yes, there is a lot to learn, but it will come as you do your due diligence in taking the time to learn how to provide proper care for yourself or assist your loved one who has been diagnosed with diabetes. The truth of the matter is that diabetes can lead to all sorts of devastating complications. However, by working to keep your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible, it is possible to avoid them or delay progression for decades. Here are the fundamentals of taking care of your health and preparing for emergencies with diabetes.
Take the Diabetes Education Course
Every health insurance offers diabetics the opportunity to take a diabetes education course to help them understand and do their part in managing the disease. It does not go away, and learning what and what not to do early on makes a huge difference in health outcomes years from now. Diabetic complications often start subtly and progress slowly, and learning how to control blood glucose levels properly through medications, nutrition and exercise can let you live a healthy, productive and fun life in spite of diabetes.
Get a Glucagon Kit
If you take insulin, you should have a glucagon injector kit. This is to be used by others if your blood glucose should ever drop to the point you lose consciousness. Your blood glucose level can drop too low if you have too much medication in your system and not enough food, and if a medication adjustment is not taken into account for vigorous exercise. The glucagon kit is easy to use, and you should show family, friends and coworkers how to use it just in case.
Glucose Tablets, Gels and Liquids
You should always carry an emergency source of glucose with you. The best method is to carry prepared glucose tablets, gels or liquids. They are in containers you can carry in a pocket or purse, and the tabs can survive the heat and cold inside your car if you keep some in the center console or glove box. However, you should swap ones kept in a hot car out for fresh ones every couple of months. They are available at pharmacies everywhere, and they are very inexpensive. Buy several to have them available at all times to treat hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels).
Stop Tobacco Use
If you smoke, you absolutely need to quit, especially if you have diabetes. The one thing diabetes does is affect your circulatory system. Smoking does too. If you smoke, you are exponentially adding to the stress your circulatory system is under. The small blood vessels are affected first, and your eyes have very tiny arteries and veins. This is how diabetes can lead to blindness. If you have diabetes and smoke, you are inviting serious and even life-threatening complications from a stroke to heart attack and even limb amputations.
Establish a Healthcare Team
It is up to you to pick your healthcare team members. This includes a primary care doctor to coordinate your care, an endocrinologist who is an expert in diabetes, an ophthalmologist to preserve healthy vision, and a diabetes educator to teach you modern treatment options and how to eat and exercise to keep your blood glucose as near to normal as possible. Diabetic wound care is critically important, and knowing who to call for home treatment medical house calls for wound care can be very beneficial to assist in healing after any injury.
A diagnosis of diabetes just means taking time to educate yourself on what you need to do for proper long-term management of the disease and making some plans to take care of emergencies. The bright side of it is that through diabetic education, you will learn the facts of what it takes to live a healthy and long life that many people never have the opportunity to learn. This gives you an edge in managing your health for the long term that many people never really take the time to learn.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. For your home treatment needs, Hannah recommends Medical House Calls with Compassion.