How 7 people with diabetes manage their blood sugar

IThere exists only one simple set of rules to manage your blood sugar when you have it Type 2 diabetes—It would be the most requested pamphlet in the doctor’s office. Instead, as many have noticed, there is no single solution that works for all the millions of Americans with this condition. It takes time and effort to discover what works best, and the right combination will be different for everyone.

Determine which medications and lifestyle factors will Most effective for blood sugar management may take many years. A way to speed up discovery? Learn from others who are living with this condition. Here, seven people with diabetes share the most important insights they’ve gathered about managing their blood sugar on a daily basis.

Pay attention to food and drug effects

When Agnes Czuchlewski, 68, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than 20 years ago, her first thought was that she had to take steps to limit her iron intake and never have to do it again. sugar treatment. That didn’t last long.

“You can be obsessed with what you should be doing, but it’s exhausting,” she says. “Instead, you are better off educating yourself about how choices affect you. For example, have that candy bar, but see what happens to your blood sugar — how much and how quickly it rises — when you do. You can then deploy controls based on what you need.”

Paying attention to how the drug affects you is also important. Czuchlewski’s initial medication lowered her blood sugar to the point where she experienced nighttime hypoglycemia, a dangerous situation when blood sugar drops too low. At one point, she was afraid she wouldn’t wake up. Tracking effects for several nights gave her the data she needed for another conversation with her doctor and switching pills.

“Learn about your body and become more aware of how medications are affecting your numbers, how each food choice affects you,” she says. “When I was diagnosed, four other people on my work team were diagnosed within six months of each other. Each of us reacts to our medications and to foods differently in our own ways. Don’t assume that you will react a certain way just because someone else has diabetes. “

Without actually observing how each affects your body in specific ways – such as a sudden wave of fatigue or symptoms like increased thirst or weakness – it’s hard to understand what those reasons are. the subtle and overt ways that blood sugar can affect you in general. Taking the time to slow down and build body awareness can help you control your blood sugar more effectively.

Read more: People with diabetes are more prone to heart disease. How to reduce the risk

Consider a continuum blood glucose meter

Tim Jones, 56, has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 35 years — and the biggest lesson he’s learned is that blood sugar regulation can change over time. It’s not just a matter of calculating how carbohydrates affect insulin, he says. All sorts of factors, including exercise and fat intake, create variations that need to be monitored, especially since they can alter the amount of insulin Jones needs to take.

The move from an insulin pump to a hybrid closed-loop artificial pancreas system with a continuous blood glucose monitor (CGM) is a game changer. CGMs are small wearable devices that monitor blood sugar throughout the day. Although Jones still needs to count carbs and adjust for fat content, a continuous sugar monitor allows him to have tighter control without having to worry about his levels dropping too low.

“Diabetes is something I have to deal with for hours every day. It doesn’t stop,” he said. “It’s nice to have a little something in my pocket that can take up some attention, especially when I’m sleeping. That’s a relief. I have never been in better control than I am now and I am expecting the technology to get better.”

Using CGM can be especially helpful for those who have found traditional manual methods blood sugar monitoring to be challenged. For example, Max Androsiuk, 34, tried to control his blood sugar for 5 years after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but found it so difficult that he had to quit playing basketball with friends – a decision that left him crushed.

“I couldn’t control my blood sugar enough to play,” he recalls. “It’s made worse by anxiety when I get active, which causes blood sugar to go up.” Then, two years ago, he started wearing a CGM and was able to check his blood sugar with just a quick glance at an app on his smartphone. That gives him confidence to return to the sport he loves. “I can easily control my blood sugar by taking measures that I know will work if I see my numbers go up or down,” he said.

Establish a routine

With type 2 diabetes, you don’t just manage your blood sugar: you also have to deal with an underlying overwhelm, says Emilee Harringshaw, 28. Factors such as food, sleep, stress, work, Exercise and medication can be like a juggling act. Just getting a high reading can put her in a quandary: Should she go for a walk or jog? Drink some water? Contact her doctor? What helps her settle in is having a regular routine, so she can be less reactive to fluctuations.

“My daily regimen is reliable but modifiable,” says Harringshaw. It included looking at her blood sugar at specific times, keeping in mind the timing of medication, focusing on stress management methods, and doing prepare food in advance so she knows the carbs, protein and fat content of each meal.

“Before I formed the habit that made me more conscious about managing my blood sugar, I was not able to identify trends and that made me feel out of control,” she says. “Having a routine of tracking, exercising, and preparing regularly helps me feel better physically and mentally.”

That includes a solid sleep routine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleeping less than seven hours a night can make diabetes harder to control. Shorter naps can also make you hungrier the next day and delay your satiety signals, increasing your risk of overeating — affecting your blood sugar.

Keep a Consistency exercise schedule

Jenny Lyn Belleza, 35, says adequate physical activity is fundamental to helping her manage her type 2 diabetes.

“An important part of controlling blood sugar is exercising regularly and I try to maintain my fitness by going to the gym a few times a week and doing some exercise,” she says. cardiovascular or strength. “I find this helps control my blood sugar and prevents any spikes or drops throughout the day.”

According to the CDC, being active makes the body more sensitive to insulin, and not only helps with blood sugar control, but also reduce the risk of heart disease and nerve damage associated with this condition. The American Diabetes Association adds that the effects of physical activity vary depending on how long you’re active and the intensity of your workouts, but in general, exercise can lower blood sugar levels. blood for 24 hours or more.

Therefore, it is important that you consult your doctor or diabetes educator when planning exercise. For example, if you are taking insulin, you may need to adjust your dose before exercise to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. Just like tracking how food affects your blood sugar hour by hour, stay up to date with blood sugar changes before, during, and after activity to understand how exercise affects you. any.

Working with the care team

For years, 48-year-old Melissa Almeida has managed her type 2 diabetes on her own, but struggles with almost every aspect, from timing of medication to food choices – in part because of her was just a teenager when he was first diagnosed.

“I feel overwhelmed and as a result I only take one of the three prescribed medications,” she says. “I was unable to maintain steady energy levels and it affected every aspect of my life, including my ability to work. By the time I started taking enough medication, I was already a full-time working mother and it was becoming increasingly difficult to find the right time to manage my illness.”

Almeida switched to a diabetes care coach program from UMass Memorial Health, which helped her establish a plan to gradually improve her medication regimen. She was also consulted about the medications she was taking to learn how they affected her blood sugar and what side effects might be. And she received detailed nutrition guidance that made a big difference to her blood sugar and energy levels.

“I feel part of my own care team, helping to ensure my care plan and personal goals are met,” she says. A lot of research supports this strategy. For example, a 2019 study in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reviewed customized diabetes education programs and used CGM to track results. Researchers found that people who signed up for just three months saw a significant difference in how well they controlled their type 2 diabetes.

Read more: The link between type 2 diabetes and mental disorders

Pay attention to mental health

After 25 years as an endocrinologist at Geisinger Health in Pennsylvania, 62-year-old Shivaun O’Donnell decided to become more involved not only with her own care but also with other patients, and became a home doctor. diabetes education for the health system 10 years ago. Along the way, she’s learned a ton of strategies for managing blood sugar, and one strategy that she finds meaningful personally is focusing on mental health.

“This condition can be accompanied by depression and, frankly, life-stopping anxiety,” she says. For example, a Stanford Medicine study in 2021 found that insulin resistance can double the risk of major depression and bring on symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite — all Both can affect blood sugar regulation. According to the CDC, only 25% of people with diabetes have diagnosed depression.

“A big part of diabetes management is mental,” says O’Donnell. “You can do everything right, but if you feel anxious or failed, it could sabotage your efforts.” That’s why it’s important to focus on tactics that strengthen your mind as well as your body, such as getting enough sleep, exercising, continuing to take medications and appointments, and Make time for activities that you find enjoyable. “It’s not just about your blood sugar,” says O’Donnell. “It’s about learning to love your life.”

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