Keeping your blood sugar levels within the recommended range can be challenging. That's because many things make your blood sugar levels change, sometimes unexpectedly. Following are some areas of focus for diabetes education that can affect your blood sugar levels.
With or without diabetes, healthy eating is a cornerstone of healthy living. But if you have diabetes, education about the disease can help you know how foods affect your blood sugar levels. It's not only the type of food you eat but also how much you eat and the combinations of food types you eat. Our team of Family Medicine providers and a Registered Dietitian can work together to create meal plans tailor made to your specific needs.
Physical activity is another important part of your diabetes management plan. Exercise causes your muscles to use sugar (glucose) for energy. Your body also uses insulin more efficiently with regular physical activity.
These factors work together to lower your blood sugar. Strenuous workouts aren’t required; even light activities such as housework, gardening or being on your feet and moving can improve your blood sugar.
Talk to our provider about an exercise plan. Our PCP can provide the education you need to help manage your diabetes by incorporating physical activity. Ask what type of exercise is appropriate for you. Most adults should exercise at least 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. If it has been some time since you’ve been active, our provider may want to check your overall health before advising you. He or she can recommend the right balance of muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercise.
When diet and exercise alone aren’t enough, insulin and other diabetes medications are designed to lower your blood sugar levels. But the timing and size of the dose determines the effectiveness of these medications. Other medications you take for other conditions can also affect your blood sugar levels.
Talk to our provider if your diabetes medications cause your blood sugar level to drop too low or if it's consistently too high. Adjustments may be required for the dosage or timing may need to be changed.
Be careful with new medications. If you're considering an over-the-counter medication or a new drug to treat another condition — such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol — ask our provider or your pharmacist if the medication may affect your blood sugar levels. Liquid medications are sometimes sweetened with sugar to cover their taste, and an alternate medication may be recommended. Always check with your provider before taking any new over-the-counter medication, so you know how it might impact your blood sugar level.
The hormones your body produces in response to prolonged periods of stress can cause a rise in your blood sugar level. In addition, it may be more difficult to closely follow your usual diabetes management routine if you're under considerably increased pressure.
Look for patterns. Track your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10 each time you record your blood sugar level. You may begin to see a pattern. Then, take control. Once you know how stress affects your blood sugar level, do something about it. Our PCP can provide you with education on methods of relaxation, how to prioritize your daily to-do list, and set limits for yourself. Discuss your stressors with your provider and take advantage of his or her helpful recommendations on reducing stress to control your diabetes.
The more you educate yourself about the factors that affect your blood sugar level, the more you can plan accordingly. If you're having trouble keeping your blood sugar level in your target range, let East Arkansas Medical Group’s Family Medicine provider, Alison Shepherd, help you with diabetes education and management. Schedule your appointment today at www.ForrestCityAnytime.com.