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Getting Control Over Diabetes
Why should I take better care of my diabetes?
By taking care of your diabetes, you can lower your chance of getting other serious medical problems. If you have diabetes, it means your body doesn't make enough insulin, or it doesn't use insulin the right way. Without enough insulin, sugar builds up in your blood instead of going to your cells to be used for energy. After a while, high blood sugar can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and nerves. This damage can lead to serious health problems for you, such as heart disease and blindness.

If you control your blood sugar, you can prevent or delay these problems. You can choose a lifestyle that puts you in control of your diabetes. Your lifestyle choices will help you feel better now and be healthier in the future.

What can I do to control my diabetes?
To control diabetes, you must keep your blood sugar low. The right blood sugar tevel is different for everyone. You and your family doctor will decide what your blood sugar goal should be, based on your attitude to change, your age, your social and family situations, and your other health problems. To control your blood sugar:you'll need to do several or all of the following:
Eat a wide variety of foods. Choose low-fat foods. Spread your calories throughout your day (eat several miI\i-meals rather than three large meals). A dietitian can help you.
Exercise regularly. Choose your favorite exercise and do it three to four times a week. Just check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.
Take your medicine (either pills or insulin shots) exactly as your doctor tells you. If you're not able or not willing to do what's been recommended, let your doctor know. Your doctor might be able to change your plan so it works for you.
Check your blood sugar level at least once a day. It's especially important to do this if you're taking insulin shots. Knowing your blood sugar level can help you to balance food, exercise and medicine.

What else can I do to lower my chances of having health problems?
In addition to seeing your family doctor regularly, the following steps will help you to stay healthy
Brush your teeth and floss them every day. See your dentist two times a year.
Keep your blood pressure low-below 130/85. Talk with your doctor about your blood pressure. Have it checked several times a year. You should be even more careful about blood pressure than people who don't have diabetes-
Lower your blood cholesterol if it's high. Check with your doctor to see what your cholesterol level should be. Your doctor can help you bring a high level down.
Don't smoke. If you want to quit smoking, talk with your doctor about how to quit.
Get a dilated eye exam from an eye doctor every year, or as often as your family doctor suggests.
Ask your family doctor to check your feet at every office visit. Check your feet yourself every day. Wear shoes that fit well. It's important to avoid sores on your feet.
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This information is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP on the World Wide Web (www.aafp.org/healthinfo). Information may also be obtained from HealthAnswers!) (www.healthanswers.com).
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Timothy L. Biliouris, M.D.
65 Route 134 Dennis, MA 02660