Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing chronic diseases in the country. The New York State Department of Health reports more than 1 million state residents have diabetes. They believe an additional 450,000 people have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed or received treatment.

Untreated and unmanaged diabetes puts a person at risk for health complications that include blindness, amputation and kidney failure. There are steps you can take to manage your diabetes while supporting your overall health and wellbeing.

Below are eight tips from WebMD and the Mayo Clinic for managing diabetes that may help reduce risk of the serious complications associated with diabetes:

1. Keep a regular sleep schedule – Your body needs adequate rest – this will help you to keep your blood levels in check and reduce stress.

2. Strive to be stress-free – Ward off stress when possible. This may include better time management or learning to say “no” to extracurricular activities that drain your mental resources. Cope with stress by practicing yoga, meditation or any other form of relaxation, such as reading or walking.

3. Follow a healthy diet – Meet with a registered dietician on an annual basis to discuss your diet and areas for improvement. Steer clear of processed foods with hidden sugars and aim for fresh veggies, whole grains and lean protein. Discuss alcohol consumption and limits with your primary care physician and other specialists.

4. Practice good skin hygiene – Those with diabetes are prone to skin issues – especially on the feet. Routinely check your skin — particularly the feet — for symptoms such as ulcers, redness, weeping or other signs of infection. Report these issues immediately to your physician.

5. Include a team of specialists in your health plan – In addition to your primary care physician, consult the following:

  • endocrinologist – specialist who deals with hormones and specializes in issues relating to insulin and diseases like diabetes;
  • ophthalmologist – specialist who works with the eyes and can stay alert to — and address — signs of diabetes-related ocular damage;
  • podiatrist – specialist who works with the feet and may help to mitigate and treat symptoms of nerve damage and other diabetic, foot-related maladies; and
  • dentist – to help address periodontal concerns.

Your family doctor or insurance carrier may be able to offer recommendations or referrals to such specialists.

6. Know your numbers – Check your blood-glucose levels every day or as recommended by your physician. Daily monitoring helps alert you early on to abnormalities and other causes for concern.

7. Get regular exercise – Physical fitness is a powerful tool in diabetes management. It may positively affect your blood sugar levels and promote a healthier heart. No need to become a marathoner – just 20 to 40 minutes, three to four days a week of moderate exercise may help, recommends WebMD. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

8. Quit smoking – Lighting up can exacerbate certain complications of diabetes, such as inflammation and higher-than-normal blood-glucose levels.

Those who suffer serious complications from diabetes may be eligible for certain forms of assistance, including Social Security disability benefits. Contact our offices to schedule a free case consultation and learn more. Call 866-205-2415 or 866-205-2415.