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Being proactive

How to minimise or prevent health issues related to diabetes

JDRF
JDRF
January 14, 2022

This resource was written by hosts of P2 Diabetes Chat podcast Credentialled Diabetes Educator Jayne Lehmann and pharmacist Credentialled Diabetes Educator Kirrily Chambers, as part of our 2022: Time to Kick T1D Goals campaign.

When it comes to living with type 1 diabetes, the ‘threat’ of complications, or as we say, ‘the potential for diabetes linked health issues’*, is a burden many carry with them every day. Health professionals often make this worse, with unhelpful suggestions like this one:

If you don’t take care of your diabetes, you will lose your foot.

This kind of language is threatening, leaving you in fear of the future. It’s also not true.

There are a range of issues you can’t change that influence whether a person with diabetes develops diabetes-linked health issues. These include:

  • your family medical history and genetics
  • the length of time you have had diabetes
  • what your diabetes management has been like in the past
  • other health issues.

Then, there are the issues you can do something about:

  • your understanding of the risk of health issues and how to prevent them. For example, to prevent a foot injury, you might choose not to walk around barefoot
  • keeping blood glucose levels (BGLs), blood pressure and cholesterol levels in range as often as possible
  • the impact of stress on BGLs (keep active to manage your stress and its impact on BGLs)
  • environmental issues (move that piece of furniture you kicked your toe on, so you don’t do it again!)
  • your ability to care for yourself and follow-up quickly on injuries or symptoms, for example having a first aid kit to treat small skin breaks to prevent infection.
  • knowledge and motivation of your health professionals (choose the best diabetes team for you)
  • smoking blocks blood vessels, so don’t smoke.

Top 10 tips for T1D positive thinking

Fear of health issues linked with diabetes zap your motivation and can make life miserable. Use our tips to develop a positive approach to managing this side of diabetes:

  1. Make a commitment to be proactively involved in decisions about, and the care of, your diabetes.
  2. Keep your knowledge up-to-date and focus on things you can change, not those you can’t.
  3. Choose an A+ Diabetes Team. You want to know they will be there, with answers, not punishment, when you need them.
  4. Move on from health professionals who make you fearful of your diabetes.
  5. Schedule your yearly diabetes checks across the year to pace yourself.
  6. Keep vaccinations up to date. All of them!
  7. Remember your oral hygiene.
  8. Enlist the help of a friend and do something fun after your health appointments.
  9. Act if something doesn’t feel right or your glucose levels have crept up or down. Getting onto issues quickly can prevent them from getting worse and keeps BGLs in range for longer periods of time.
  10. Look after your mental health. If you are feeling down or overwhelmed by living with diabetes, talk to your health team. We care about your mental and physical health.

A focus on the positive and the things you can do will see you taking many small steps each day to prevent, delay or minimise diabetes-linked health issues. Lots of small steps end up making a big difference to an area of diabetes care people are often made to feel powerless about.

To find out more on health issues linked with diabetes, download ‘Straight to the Point’, A guide for adults living with type 1 diabetes.

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