If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, you can still enjoy doing the things you love while taking care of yourself.

Use these six strategies to manage your health and live a rewarding, active life.

[toggle title=”1. Get Informed About Diabetes” group=”strategies” start=”open”]

Your first step after being diagnosed is to ask questions and learn as much as you can about:

  • What changes you can make to take care of yourself
  • What medical treatments you need

Start with your doctor. He or she may also put you in touch with diabetes educators, dietitians, or other specialists who can help you get answers to the questions that concern you most.

Talk to your friends and family members who have diabetes. You could also join a support group and connect online with other people who have diabetes. Knowing more helps you make choices.

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[toggle title=”2. Get Care for Your Diabetes” group=”strategies”]

Your doctor is your main resource for getting the care you need to live well with diabetes. Your treatment may include:

  • Medicines. Whether you need medication to help treat your diabetes depends on your symptoms, complications, blood sugar, and other issues.
  • Lifestyle changes. These may include changing your diet, losing extra weight, and becoming more active.
  • Monitoring your blood sugar. Your doctor can teach you how to keep track and show you what to do to avoid highs and lows.

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[toggle title=”3. Track Your ABCs” group=”strategies”]

Diabetes makes you more likely to get conditions that may affect your eyes, nerves, heart, teeth, and more. This is why you want to watch your diabetes ABCs.

  • “A” stands for A1c. This test measures your average blood sugar over the past 2 or 3 months. Your goal is to keep your A1c around 7% or less without risking low blood sugar. Your doctor can help.
  • “B” stands for blood pressure. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to get high blood pressure, which can lead to other serious conditions. Get your numbers checked two to four times a year.
  • “C” stands for cholesterol. Having diabetes can also put you at risk for high cholesterol, which makes heart disease and strokes more likely. Get it checked at least once every year.

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[toggle title=”4. Take Steps to Manage Your Diabetes” group=”strategies”]

Once you know more about living with diabetes, you’re ready to put that knowledge into practice. A healthy lifestyle includes:

  • Seeing your doctor two to four times a year
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week
  • Reaching and keeping a healthy weight
  • Seeing your dentist at least twice a year
  • Not smoking
  • Getting eye and foot exams every year

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[toggle title=”5. Stop Diabetes Complications Before They Start” group=”strategies”]

You can help prevent complications by controlling your diabetes with diet, medication, exercise, and regular checkups.

It’s also important to know the signs of some common complications:

Nerve damage (called diabetic neuropathy) often affects the feet and legs of people with diabetes. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, burning, cuts or sores that heal very slowly, and erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness.

Eye problems (called diabetic retinopathy) can result from damage to small blood vessels in the retina. Symptoms include sudden vision loss, blurry vision, eye pain or pressure, and spots before the eyes.

Kidney damage (called diabetic nephropathy) is a diabetes complication that can lead to dialysis or a kidney transplant. To rule out kidney damage, have your doctor check your blood pressure two to four times a year and your urine protein (microalbumin) at least once a year.

Heart disease and strokes are more likely if you have diabetes. The risks go up even higher if you smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about your risks for heart disease or stroke.

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[toggle title=”6. Get Help From Your Diabetes Health Care Team” group=”strategies”]

Catching diabetes complications early can dramatically boost your chances of successful treatment. If you’re concerned about something, talk to your doctor. Treatment may be as simple as a lifestyle change or an adjustment in medication.

Whether you have questions about diabetes or think you’re experiencing diabetes complications, your diabetes health care team is there to help you continue to do the things you love with the people you care about.

WebMD Medical Reference, Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD

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