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Top tips for managing diabetes

Updated: Mar 5

A group of people exercising and running on a treadmill

There is no such thing as ‘mild’ diabetes. All types of diabetes are serious, progressive and complex diseases which can have a major impact on quality of life and life-expectancy. The best ways to minimise the risk of complications is early diagnosis, treatment and effective ongoing support and management.

To manage your diabetes it's important to make sure you are continually working on and aware of your condition. Managing diabetes will require variations based on your personal situation.

Managing your diabetes

  • Eating well helps manage your blood glucose levels and your body weight

  • Exercising helps the insulin work more effectively, lowers your blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.

  • Regular blood glucose monitoring tests whether the treatment being followed is adequately controlling blood glucose levels or whether you need to adjust your treatment.

Eating well

Eating a healthy and balanced diet along with maintaining an active lifestyle are important for everyone, including people with diabetes. Having a healthy diet and being active is an important part of managing diabetes because it will help manage your blood glucose levels and your body weight.

Everyone in the family will benefit from eating a healthy and balanced range of foods so there is no need to prepare separate meals if you're managing diabetes. It's a good idea to visit a dietitian for personalised advice based on your personal situation.

Medicare may also provide a rebate if you have a chronic condition, like diabetes. If you have private health insurance you could also receive a rebate from your health fund. You should check with both to understand the rebates before attending your appointment.

Our Dietitian is currently running small group sessions over 5-weeks which patients with diabetes can benefit from. The course will focus on balanced healthy eating, whilst still enjoying the foods you love. Aimed at people wanting to improve health, wellbeing and quality of life, this interactive knowledge and skill based workshop will give you the skills you need for sustained change. Book your place now by calling (03) 9372 8091.

Exercising regularly

Again, everybody benefits from regular exercise. If you have diabetes, or are at risk of diabetes it plays an important role in keeping you healthy.

Exercising regularly when you have diabetes helps;

  • Insulin to work better, which will improve your diabetes management

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Lower your blood pressure

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease

  • Reduce stress.

Before commencing a regular exercise program see your doctor for a full medical examination.

A physiotherapist can help you work towards an exercise program suitable for your condition. They will also assist in moving you slowly into more high intensity activity (if suitable). A physiotherapist may recommend low impact activities like clinical pilates or hydrotherapy or other suitable exercise.

Diabetes can knock you off your feet

If you've had diabetes for a long time or your blood glucose levels may have been too high for an extended period of time, your feet may be at risk of serious complications.

Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet and legs, reduce blood flow to your feet and cause stiffness in the joints, not to mention, it can make you more susceptible to ulcers, infections and amputations.

Poor blood glucose control may cause nerve damage to the nerve in your feet, a term known as peripheral neuropathy. Once you develop peripheral neuropathy, your feet lack the protective sensation required to respond to potentially harmful stimuli. This increases the individual’s risk of accidental damage because the individual cannot feel any pain. If the damage is left untreated, it may develop into an ulcer. The ulcer may become infected and the progression of an infection may lead to an amputation. Symptoms of nerve damage include the following;

  • Numbness and tingling in the feet that can spread to the legs

  • Pins and needles in the feet

  • Burning sensation in the lower limbs that are marked at night

  • Cold legs

Poor blood glucose control can also lead to reduced blood supply to the feet. This means that the individual is more prone infection. Signs of poor blood flow to the feet include;

  • Feet feeling cold

  • Change in foot colour to pale, or reddish-blue colour

  • Pain in the feet, even at rest

  • Cramps in the calf muscles after short walks

  • Slow healing cuts

  • Reduced hair and nail growth

It is important to ensure that you have your diabetes foot assessment performed once a year or as advised by your podiatrist.

Daily care can prevent these serious complications. Check your feet daily for any of the following;

  • Broken skin between toes or cracked skin

  • Cuts, bruises or blisters

  • Nail colour changes or ingrown toenails.

  • Redness or unusual swelling

  • Calluses or corns

  • Ulcers

  • Change in foot shape

If you notice any of the above changes, it is important to act fast and see your podiatrist for treatment and long term management.

The key to managing diabetes is in the ongoing treatment and support from professionals like GPs, podiatrists, physiotherapists & dietitians. Book your appointment now with one of our physios, podiatrists or dietitian who are skilled in the management of diabetes and can work with your long term goals.​

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