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Reach your target range safely

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Brought to you by Mercy HEALTH

Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems. The good news? With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications.

Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. “It is a common and serious problem, especially for those who have had diabetes for a number of years.” said Carol Zabel, diabetes education department manager at Mercy Health. “It can lead to many kinds of problems including numbness, tingling or burning sensation, muscle weakness and serious foot problems such as ulcers and infections.”

High blood sugar over time damages nerves and weakens the walls of small blood vessels that supply nerves with nutrients and oxygen. “If you keep your blood glucose levels on target, you may help prevent or delay nerve damage. If you already have nerve damage, this will help prevent or delay further damage. There are also other treatments that can help,” Zabel said.

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Meal planning, physical activity and medications, if needed, all can help you reach your target range. Zabel offers seven simple steps keep track of your blood glucose levels:

• Use a blood glucose meter to help you make decisions about day-to-day care, and make an appointment with a diabetes educator if you need assistance with this or other aspects of your care such as meal planning.

• See your doctor regularly, and get an A1c lab test at least twice a year to see if your care plan is working or whether changes are needed.

• If you have problems, get treatment right away to prevent more serious issues down the road.

• Since nerve damage can make you lose feeling in your feet, check your feet every day for sores, cuts, hot or cold spots, red areas, swelling or toenail infections.

• Protect your feet by using a lotion, shoes and socks, because you may not feel it when you step on a sharp object or hot pavement.

• Get special shoes if needed. If you have foot problems, your insurance plan may pay for shoes. Ask your health care team about it.

• Be careful with exercising, as some are not safe for people with nerve damage.

To learn more about how to prevent or control your symptoms, talk with your family physician and call a certified diabetes educator at Mercy Health. MH diabetes services are nationally recognized by the American Diabetes Association. Group and individual counseling sessions are available. Call 330-480-2676 in Mahoning County and 330-841-4108 in Trumbull County.