By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that affects people in several ways. Eventually, a persistently high blood sugar level leads to several complications that can significantly impair quality of life. Managing the disease carefully by regularly monitoring blood glucose, taking medication on time and adhering to diet plans and exercise regimens can reduce the risk of complications to a large extent.
Some of the measures taken to ensure healthy living in patients with type 2 diabetes include:
Self care involves taking care of one's own health by adhering to medical advice regarding medication and diet plans, not missing meals or binge eating, practising good foot care, exercising regularly and maintaining good physical and mental health.
Individuals with diabetes are also advised to give up any smoking, binge drinking or drug habits. Regular exercise needs to be monitored as, although a lack of exercise is unhealthy, sudden bouts of over-exercise may also lead to problems. Moderate intensity exercise should performed for at least 150 minutes per week is recommended.
Diabetic individuals should attend regular check-ups to have their fasting blood glucose and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) tested. The eyes should also be checked for signs of retinopathy and the health of the heart, blood vessel, nerves and kidneys should be assessed. Regular check-ups should include an assessment of the feet to check for sores, infection, injury and "diabetic foot," the gangrene than can occur in cases where neuropathy is manifesting.
Alertness to hypoglycemia
Patients should be aware of diabetic emergencies such as hypoglycaemia or a fall in blood sugar. Keeping glucose tablets to hand at all times and wearing a medi-alert bracelet also helps in the identification and early management of hypoglycemic episodes.
Other measures taken
For diabetic women, pregnancy may mean stopping oral medications and switching over to insulin for effective blood sugar control. Maternal high blood sugar can harm the unborn baby and tight blood sugar control in the mother is therefore essential in preventing pregnancy complications.
Any mental health problems associated with long term diabetes such as anxiety disorder or depression should also be treated.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc