Preventing Diabetes Health Problems

November is National Diabetes Month and this year’s focus is on taking action to prevent diabetes health problems.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart, and it is linked to some types of cancer.

It affects about 37 million Americans, including adults and youth. According to the American Diabetes Organization, there are more than 360,000 Arkansans with diabetes and nearly 800,000 Arkansans are prediabetic.

There’s good news, taking charge of your health may help you prevent diabetes health problems.

Tips to get started

1. Manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

Research shows that managing your diabetes as soon as possible after diagnosis may help prevent diabetes health problems. You can start by managing your diabetes ABCs.

  • A is for the A1C test that healthcare professionals use to measure your average blood glucose levels. Some people with diabetes also use devices to track their blood glucose throughout the day and night.
  • B is for blood pressure.
  • C is for cholesterol.

Ask your health care team what your ABCs goals should be.

2. Take small steps toward healthy habits.

Lifestyle habits such as planning healthy meals, being physically active, getting enough sleep, and not smoking may help you manage your diabetes ABCs. You don’t have to do it all at once. Start slow and build healthier habits from there.

3. Take your medicines on time.

Remember to take your medicines even if you feel healthy. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have trouble taking your medicines on time or at the correct dose.

4. Reach or maintain a healthy weight.

If you are overweight or obese, ask your primary care provider if healthy eating, physical activity, or other weight-loss treatments like bariatric surgery may help you manage your weight. If you’re interested in learning more about our bariatric program, click here.

5. Take care of your mental health.

Managing diabetes can be hard. If you feel down, sad, or overwhelmed, learn about healthy ways to cope with stress. Consider talking to a mental health counselor or joining a support group.

6. Work with your health care team.

Managing diabetes takes a team. Your health care team may include a primary care provider, diabetes specialist, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes educator. Ask your primary care provider if you should talk with other health care professionals about your diabetes.

Diabetes medicines, devices, and office visits can be expensive. A social worker or a member of your health care team may be able to help you find community resources or financial help for diabetes care.