Doctors consider your blood glucose normal when it is less than 110 mg/dl (6.1 mmol/L) if you have eaten nothing for 8 to 12 hours. If you have eaten, your blood glucose is normal if it is less than 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/L) 2 hours after eating. If you never see a blood glucose level over 140, you are doing very well, indeed.
You can use many tricks to achieve this level of control, including any or all of the following.
Knowing your blood glucose
No excuse is adequate for you to not know your blood glucose at all times. The ability to measure blood glucose accurately and rapidly is the greatest advance in diabetes care since the discovery of insulin. Yet, many people don't track their blood glucose.
The number of glucose meters you can choose is vast, and they are all good. Your insurance company may prefer one type of meter, or your doctor may have computer hardware and software for only one type. Other than those limitations, the choice is yours.
If you have very stable blood glucose levels, test once a day — some days in the morning before breakfast, other days in the evening before supper. Varying the time of day you test your blood glucose gives you and your doctor a picture of your control under different circumstances. If your diabetes requires insulin or is unstable, you need to test at least before meals and at bedtime in order to select your insulin dose.
Using exercise to control your glucose
Exercise doesn't mean hours of exhaustion followed by a period of recovery. A brisk walk, lasting no more than 20 to 30 minutes, is a good everyday exercise. If you want to do more, that's fine, but just about anyone can do this much. People who can't walk for some reason can get their exercise by moving their arms.
A few of the benefits of exercise include
Lowers the blood glucose by using it for energy
Helps with weight loss
Lowers bad cholesterol and triglyceride fats and raises good cholesterol
Lowers blood pressure
Reduces stress levels
Reduces the need for drugs and insulin shots
Taking your medications
You have the advantage of having some of the best drugs for diabetes available to you, which was not true as recently as five years ago. With the right combination of medications, just about any patient can achieve excellent control. However, no medication works if you don't take it.
As you get older, the forces that contribute to a worsening of your blood glucose tend to get stronger. You want to do all you can to reverse that tendency. Taking your medications is an essential part of your overall program.
Maintaining a positive attitude
Your mental approach to your diabetes plays a major role in determining your success in controlling the disease. Think of diabetes as a challenge — like high school math or asking out your first date. As you overcome challenges in one area of your life, the skills you learn are available to other areas. Looking at something as a challenge allows you to use all your creativity.
Simply understanding the workings of your body, which comes with treating your diabetes, probably makes you healthier than the couch potato who understands little more than the most recent television sitcom.
Brushing off dental problems
Keeping your teeth in excellent condition is important for anyone, but especially if you have diabetes. "Excellent condition" means brushing them twice a day and using dental floss at the end of the day to reach where the toothbrush never goes. It also means visits to the dentist on a regular basis for cleaning and examination.
People with diabetes don't have more cavities than non-diabetics, but they do have more gum disease if their glucose isn't under control. Gum disease results from the high glucose that bathes the mouth — a perfect medium for bacteria. Keeping your glucose under control helps you avoid losing teeth because of gum disease, as well as the further deterioration in glucose control.
Becoming aware of new developments
The pace of new discoveries in diabetes is so rapid that keeping on top of the field is difficult even for the experts. You can keep current in a number of ways. Begin by taking a course in diabetes from a certified diabetes educator. Such a course gives you a basis for a future understanding of advances in diabetes. Join a diabetes organization, particularly the American Diabetes Association. Finally, don't hesitate to question your doctor or ask to see a diabetes specialist if your doctor's answers don't satisfy you.
Connecting with the experts
The available knowledge about diabetes is huge and growing rapidly. Fortunately, you can turn to multiple people for help. You should take advantage of all of them at one time or another, including the following people:
Your primary physician, who takes care of diabetes and all your other medical concerns
A diabetes specialist, who is aware of the latest and greatest in diabetes treatment
An eye doctor, who must examine you at least once a year
A foot doctor, to trim your toenails and treat foot problems
A dietitian, to help you plan your nutritional program
A diabetes educator, to teach you a basic understanding of this disease
A pharmacist, who can help you understand your medications
A mental health worker, if you run into adjustment problems
Avoiding what doesn't work
Not wasting your time and money on worthless treatments is important. When you consider the almost 20 million people with diabetes in the United States alone, they provide a huge potential market for people with "the latest wonder cure for diabetes." Before you waste your money, check out the claims of these crooks with your diabetes experts. Moreover, don't make any substantial changes in your diabetes management without first discussing them with your physician.