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6 Tips for Avoiding Complications From Diabetes

A diagnosis of diabetes does not always mean a lifetime of complications. By devising a plan of action for your diabetes management, you’ll reduce many of the risks associated with having type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Take control of blood glucose. This is your first line of defense against diabetes complications. By maintaining tight control over your blood glucose, you may minimize the damaging effects of unpredictable glucose levels on your body. You’ll also be lowering your A1C level, a test doctors use to determine how well diabetes is being controlled. Aim for an A1C reading of  less than 7% .

Watch your cholesterol. Total cholesterol levels should generally be 200 mg/dl, but discuss personal goals with your doctor. Watch out for LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, too—LDL can clog the walls of arteries, so keep it under 70 mg/dl to avoid problems. In addition, HDL cholesterol should be greater than 40 mg/dl for men, and 50 mg/dl for women. Triglycerides, a type of fat, should also be under 150 mg/dl.

Keep blood pressure in check. Blood pressure readings measure the pressure against the walls of your blood vessels. High blood pressure is more common in people with diabetes, and increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney, and eye diseases. Aim for a reading of 130/80 or lower.

Don’t forget your kidneys. Kidneys are the organs that make sure the fluids in your body are balanced and processed properly. When you have diabetes, your kidneys can become compromised due to poorly controlled blood glucose and high blood pressure, so be certain to have a microalbumin test at least once per year, with a goal of less than 30 micrograms per milligram creatinine.

Look out for your eyes. High blood glucose can cause serious vision problems. If you have diabetes, it is crucial to have a dilated eye exam once per year. If you have any vision problems, report them to your doctor immediately.

Examine your feet. It’s very important for people with diabetes to check their feet for wounds or fissures on a daily basis. If you discover a wound, treat it immediately and monitor the healing process. For more information on examining your feet, check out this article.

What You Should Do…

Each day:

- Check  your blood glucose -- ask your healthcare provider how often and the best times of day to check.

- Examine your feet and toenails for any wounds.

- Be physically active each day.

- Take aspirin if your doctor has suggested it.

2-4 times each  year:

- Have your A1C checked by your doctor or healthcare provider

At least once a year:

- Visit your doctor to discuss goals for the care of your diabetes.

- Visit your dentist for a regular check-up.

- Get a flu shot to prevent complications from illness.

- Have your doctor check your blood pressure and discuss the results with you.

- Have a dilated eye exam.

Watch 6 videos of Joslin clinicians discussing the tests you should have regularly to check your progress in each of these areas:

Page last updated: October 25, 2014