Diabetes is a progressive condition that can create some dangerous complications. To avoid complications of diabetes, we must control diabetes. Controlling diabetes often requires moving from diet to tablets and eventually to insulin (in type 2 diabetes) and moving from fewer daily insulin injections to more frequent daily injections (in type 1 diabetes).
But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Complications of diabetes include eye problems, nerve problems, kidney problems, foot problems and heart and blood vessel disease.
The key to preventing complications of diabetes is to keep blood glucose under tight control. Blood pressure and blood fats (including cholesterol) should be regularly monitored.
If you’ve ever thought, “Surely it’s enough to keep my blood sugar within a reasonably low range, and not worry too much if it creeps up slightly over time”, then take a look at the hard evidence.
Two large studies that changed our outlook on diabetes control were the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), which looked at people with type 1 diabetes, and the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), which looked at people with type 2 diabetes.
Both studies provided diabetes experts with compelling evidence that strict blood glucose control, together with carefully monitored blood pressure, are the key to reducing the risk of long-term complications.
Keeping blood sugar levels down is not always easy, but it’s important to keep aiming for very good control. Even if you don’t reach ideal blood sugar levels, any improvement will help you reduce your risk of diabetic complications.
Ultimately, good blood glucose control depends on you. Your diabetes care team can help and advise you, but you are the one who needs to take responsibility for your health – both short and long term.
Tips for tighter control
1. Pay attention to your diet and weight – think low fat, low sugar, high fiber and high complex carbohydrate
2. If you smoke, you really need to give it up now! Find sources of help and support if you need them
3. Take regular exercise, do something you enjoy that won’t be a chore
4. Keep all your clinic appointments so your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can all be regularly monitored
5. Check your blood sugar daily, several times if you think you need to
6. If your blood sugar remains higher than it should be, discuss with your diabetes care team what options you can look at to help bring it down.