12 Tips for Managing Your Diabetes
More than one in 10 Americans has diabetes, which can increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, and other health problems.1 If you're living with diabetes, these tips will help you take care of your health.
1. Take your diabetes medicines (if needed).
If your doctor has prescribed medications for diabetes, it’s important to continue your treatment, even when you feel good or have reached your blood sugar (glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol goals.2
2. Keep track of your blood sugar.
For many people with diabetes, checking their blood sugar level each day is key to managing their diabetes. If your blood has too much or too little sugar, you may need a change in your meal plan, exercise plan, or medication. Ask your healthcare provider how often you should check your blood sugar. Make sure to keep a record of your blood sugar self-checks and bring those to your appointments.2
3. Know your blood pressure.
If your doctor recommends checking your blood pressure, you can use a home blood pressure measurement device or monitor. Be sure to keep a record of your readings and bring those to your medical appointments.. The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90 mm Hg, and for some people with high risk for heart disease, it should be much lower. Ask your healthcare provider what your goal should be.2
4. Ask about your cholesterol levels.
There are two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels. HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels. Ask your healthcare provider what your cholesterol numbers should be. If your numbers are not where they should be, ask what you can do to help change that.2
5. Check your feet every day.
You may have reduced feeling in your feet caused by high blood sugar levels and a reduced blood supply to your legs. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask a family member for help. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you have any cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or other change to the skin or nails.3
6. Take care of your teeth.
High blood sugar also can make tooth and gum problems worse and even cause tooth loss. To protect your teeth, brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once a day, and see your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.4
7. Get help to quit smoking.
Not smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels. Smoking raises your risk for many diabetes problems, including heart attack and stroke. Ask for help to quit by talking to your healthcare provider, calling 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669), or visiting SmokeFree.gov.2
8. Eat well.
The foods that are best for someone with diabetes are excellent choices for everyone: fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, chicken or turkey without the skin, fish, lean meats, and nonfat or low-fat milk and cheese. Choose foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt, and drink water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks.2
9. Be active.
Try to work up to 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most days of the week. Brisk walking and swimming are good ways to move more. If you’re not active now, ask your healthcare provider about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.2
10. Take care of your eyes.
Diabetes is the main cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74. It’s also a major cause of blindness for those aged 75 or older. That’s why it’s important to have an eye care professional examine your eyes once a year.5
11. Get tested for kidney disease regularly.
High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease, and approximately 1 in 3 adults with diabetes could have this condition. Regular testing is your best chance for identifying chronic kidney disease early, so ask your healthcare provider how often you should be tested. Early treatment is most effective and can help prevent additional health problems.6
12. Practice ways to reduce stress.
Physical stress can raise your blood sugar. While it’s hard to remove stress from your life, you can learn to handle it. Try deep breathing, journaling, taking a walk, meditating, or joining a support group for people with diabetes.7
To learn more about diabetes, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
1National Diabetes Statistics Report | Diabetes | CDC
2Managing Diabetes | NIDDK (nih.gov)
3Your Diabetes Care Schedule | Diabetes | CDC
4Diabetes and Oral Health | Diabetes | CDC
5Take Charge of Your Diabetes: Healthy Eyes | Diabetes | CDC
6Kidney Testing: Everything You Need to Know | CDC
7Helping Patients with Diabetes Manage Stress | NIDDK (nih.gov)