Although diabetes is a medical condition, it is really a lifestyle as people work to manage their blood sugar. People make lifestyle changes all the time to be more healthy. But, for someone with diabetes, there is an added goal – to avoid some potentially complications.
Although diabetes is a medical condition, it is really a lifestyle as people work to manage their blood sugar. It is a condition that affects what you eat, how much you exercise, and even how you must deal with stress.
People make lifestyle changes all the time to be more healthy. But, for someone with diabetes, there is an added goal – to avoid some potentially serious and even life-threatening complications. Part of that plan should be getting regular checkups with your healthcare provider.
Diabetes is a Math Game
If you have diabetes, math plays a significant role in your day. You measure:
- Your sugar levels to see if they fall within norms.
- The grams of carbohydrates you eat to keep your blood sugar in check
- The amount of time you spend moving each day
Add to this the very important medical screening necessary to ensure you avoid serious complications of this disease. In addition, medical tests help your provider better understand what you need to stay healthy.
Complications From Diabetes
You do the math to reduce your risk of complications, but what kind of problems can you have with diabetes?
- Cardiovascular (heart) disease – If you have diabetes, you have a greater risk of developing heart and blood vessels problems. High blood sugar can damage the vessels that carry blood to and from your heart. It can also interfere with the nerves that keep your heart beating. That means you have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. (1)
- Nerve damage – The potential damage to your nerves goes beyond your heart. Many people with diabetes feel numbness in their feet. They may develop sores on their feet and legs, too. This occurs because the nerves are not getting enough blood due to the damaged vessels. (2)
- Kidney problems – One of the most serious potential complications affects your kidneys. The kidneys filter blood, but high blood sugar can damage that delicate system.
- Blindness – Diabetes can also impact blood going to the eyes, increasing your risk of blindness.
Those with diabetes also have problems healing, which means every cut or sore is a potential complication, especially in the feet. (2)
Getting Those Medical Check-Ups
If you have diabetes, you are at risk for these complications, but regular checkups may help you beat the odds and manage your condition successfully.
How often you see your healthcare provider depends on different things. For example, whether your blood sugar is stable and how long you have had diabetes. If your blood sugar stays within normal ranges, you may only have to go every six months. If you are not stable or have not had diabetes long, the doctor may want to see you every three months or more. (3)
The doctor will also want to run a couple of tests just to make sure everything is working right:
- A1C test - You check your blood sugar at least once a day, but a medical provider can do a more thorough check. An A1C test tells you your average blood sugar over a couple of months. It is a critical tool for diabetes management because it means that what you are doing is working.
- ACR – ACR stands for albumin-to-creatinine ratio, which helps check how well your kidneys work.
They will check things like your blood pressure and weight, too. This is also your chance to ask questions because the more you know about your health and body, the better. Before your appointment, write down any questions you might have and take them with you, so you don’t forget.
The check-ups you need when you have diabetes go beyond just seeing your primary care provider. You will also want a yearly eye exam.
People don’t always know when something is wrong with their eyes. Your vision can change slowly enough that you don’t realize it is happening. An eye exam takes the mystery out of it, so you know if you need treatment. (4)
Diabetes can also impact your teeth and mouth health. If your blood sugar is high, there is a lot of sugar in your saliva. (5)
There is a reason dentists tell people to avoid sweets. The mouth is full of bacteria, and they feed on sugar. When there is sugar in your saliva, it leads to more bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease.
Having these problems is more serious if you also have diabetes. Also, having high blood sugar can make it hard to fight infection. If your body doesn’t fight infection well and you have more dangerous bacteria in your mouth, your risk of complications increases in cavities and infectionsin your heart and blood. Regular visits to the dentist mean cleaning your teeth and possibly reducing that risk.
Regular Check-Ups Helps You Manage Your Health
Diabetes is a very complicated illness, but it is also manageable for most people. You count your carbs, exercise each day, and check your blood sugar to improve your health and control your diabetes. So why not add regular trips to the doctor to your list of things you do to reduce your risk of complications from diabetes.
(1) Diabetes and Your Heart. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 2021.
(2) Diabetes: Complications. Mayo Clinic
(3) Health Checks for People with Diabetes. American Diabetes Association.
(4) Diabetes eye care.National Library of Medicine.. May 2020
(5) Diabetes and Oral Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 2021.
The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.
Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.