Reducing Risks means doing behaviors that minimize or prevent complications and negative outcomes of prediabetes and diabetes. Examples of these behaviors include making positive lifestyle changes, participating in a type 2 diabetes prevention or diabetes self-management education and support program, getting adequate sleep, and getting recommended vaccines and health screenings. Acknowledging that preventive actions you can take now will benefit you years from now means you have the power to change your health outcomes.
Learning about your health risks is the first step to being able to avoid complications. There are four times when it is most beneficial to meet with a diabetes care and education specialist:
Once you know your risks, you’ll need to problem solve around taking the recommended steps to help prevent or reduce your risks of complications. Here are the recommended checks for maintaining your health and catching any problems early so they can be treated:
- Schedule regular medical checkups. Plan to see your provider at least every three months. They can order blood tests such as an A1C which measures your average overall glucose level during the past 3 months, as well as check your blood pressure.
- Get all of the recommended health checks:
- Sleep apnea screening
- Hearing loss screening
- Dental exam
- Eye exam
- Kidney function screening
- Get a cholesterol check
- Take care of your feet. Look closely at the tops and bottoms of your feet every day. Look for redness, cuts, bruises or sores that won’t heal. Use a mirror if needed. Don’t go barefoot. Keep your feet clean and dry. Call your provider right away if you find a problem with your feet.
- Get recommended vaccines. This includes flu, pneumonia and hepatitis B.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking damages your blood vessels and increases your risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Monitor your food, medications, exams, target levels and more. Use the data gathered to problem solve and come up with the most appropriate strategies.
- Talk about your feelings. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. Talk to your diabetes care and education specialist, healthcare provider or counselor about your feelings.These are the signs that you may need help:
- You struggle to manage your diabetes
- You avoid seeing your healthcare providers
- You have little interest or don't find pleasure in your activities
- You sleep most of the day or are not able to sleep
- You have lost your appetite or are overeating
Making sure you get recommended health checks and sticking to your treatment plan are positive steps you can take to reduce your risk of complications. Taking an active role in keeping your heart, kidneys and eyes as healthy as possible helps you achieve your desired quality of life. Act early so you can stay healthy in the long run! A diabetes care and education specialist can be a great resource for helping you understand how to reduce your risks. Ask your provider to refer you. You deserve it!
For more information, download a tip sheet on reducing risks here that includes a guide for breaking down tasks around reducing risks into more manageable parts.