Your Diabetes Checklist
Your ABC checklist of diabetes: A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Here are the things that anyone with diabetes should have tested, checked, or measured regularly in order to monitor and manage their condition successfully.
Track your blood glucose level over time with the A1C test.
A simple blood glucose test, called A1C, can regularly estimate your average blood glucose (eAG) levels over a period of two to three months. It does this by measuring how much glucose gets attached to your red blood cells. Because new red blood cells are always being made to replace older ones, your A1C will change over time, too.
- Have your doctor measure your A1C at least twice per year.
- Get tested more often if you’re changing diabetes care or medications.
- The general healthy target for A1C is 7% (eAG of 154 mg/dl).
- Studies show that for every one point decrease in A1C, you reduce your risk of long-term diabetes complications by up to 40%.
- Check your blood glucose with a meter, as directed/ordered/prescribed by your physician, even if you get your A1C test periodically.
Factors affecting blood glucose.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, your blood glucose level can go lower or higher. Use your blood glucose (sugar) levels to make decisions about food and activities each day—decisions that can prevent diabetes complications such as heart attack, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.
- Too much food (like a meal or snack with more carbohydrates than normal)
- Not being active
- Not enough insulin or oral diabetes medication
- Side effects from other meds (such as steroids, antipsychotic meds)
- Illness (your body releases hormones to fight the illness, but they raise blood glucose levels)
- Menstrual periods (which cause hormonal changes)
What makes blood glucose fall?
- Not enough food (a meal or snack with fewer carbohydrates than usual, or missing a meal of snack)
- Alcohol (especially on an empty stomach)
- Side effects from other medications
- More physical activity or exercise than usual—physical activity makes the body sensitive to insulin and better able to use glucose for energy
Treatment and care.
Diabetes is common disease, yet every individual needs unique care. That’s why people with diabetes and their families should learn as much as possible about keeping this very serious condition under control, including the latest medical therapies and approaches, knowing your glucose target range, as well as lifestyle choices. The American Diabetes Association offers a wealth of helpful and potentially lifesaving information on their website. Read more .
Take special care of your feet.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop foot problems. Without regular care and proper footwear, even ordinary problems can get worse and lead to serious complications. Such as:
nerve damage that lessens your ability to feel heat, cold, or pain or injury
dryness can lead to peeling or cracked skin that could get infected
they build up faster and can turn into open sores if not carefully trimmed
open sores that can become infected and, if untreated, lead to loss of a limb
makes feet less able to fight infection
many people with diabetes have peripheral artery disease, putting them at higher risk for infection and limb amputation
Caring for a loved one with diabetes.
When people who have diabetes also have the support of family and friends, they are better able to manage their conditions and live healthier, longer lives. It’s a hard disease to handle alone. So start the conversation. Here’s how you can help support a loved one who is coping with diabetes.
Learn about the diabetes.
- Ask your loved one to teach you about how he or she is managing diabetes.
- Join a support group—in person or online—about living with diabetes.
- Check the educational links on this website to find a group near you.
- Ask your loved one’s health care team how you can learn more about diabetes.
Ask your loved one about coping with diabetes and how you can help.
Here are sample questions you can ask:
- Do you ever feel down or overwhelmed about all you have to do to manage your diabetes?
- Have you set goals for managing your diabetes?
- What things seem to get in the way of reaching your goals?
- What can I do to help? (Example: If you want to be more active, will it help if we take walks together?)
- Have you talked to your health care team about your diabetes care and how you want to reach your goals?