Living with Type 2 Diabetes: Lifestyle Changes and Pregnancy

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Caring for your health will make your diabetes easier to treat and minimise your risk of developing complications of diabetes.

Updated: August 15, 2020

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Caring for your health will make  your diabetes easier to treat and minimize your risk of developing complications of diabetes.

Self care can be done by maintaining good physical and mental health and preventing illness or accidents. You should also be tested  at least once a year to check how well your diabetes is being controlled over the long term. HbA1C test can be conducted once in 3 months to  measures how much glucose is in the red blood cells. Be in regular contact with your diabetes care team for examination of your eyes, feet and nerves which may be affected by diabetes.

Lifestyle Changes:

Choose a Healthy and Balanced Diet:

The important thing in managing diabetes through your diet is to eat regularly small meals with intervals and include starchy carbohydrates as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables. You can reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar in your diet, and increasing the amount of fibre. You can and enjoy a wide range of foods and have a varied diet as long as you eat regularly and make healthy choices. If your diet is well balanced, you should be able to achieve a good level of health and maintain a healthy weight.

Regular Exercise:

Regular exercise will help lowering your blood glucose level. Aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking can be included as a part of your physical activity for 30-45 minutes per day. Before starting a new activity, speak to your GP or diabetes care team as they might have to adjust your insulin treatment ,medicines or diet to keep your blood glucose level steady.

Give up Smoking:

smoking increases your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke and many other serious smoking-related conditions, such as lung cancer. Your GP or diabetes care team can provide you with advice, support and treatment to help you quit smoking.

Limit Alcohol:

Drinking alcohol may affect your ability to carry out insulin treatment or blood glucose monitoring. It can cause hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia depending on the amount you drink. Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. It is always advisable to limit or better to avoid alcohol when you have diabetes.

Keeping Well:

People with Type 2 diabetes are recommended to get

  • Flu jab each autumn to protect against flu (influenza).
  • A pneumoccocal vaccination, which protects against a serious chest infection called pneumococcal pneumonia.

Foot Care:

Because diabetes is associated with poor blood circulation in the feet, and blood glucose can damage the nerves, you are at greater risk of developing problems with your feet, including foot ulcers and infections from minor cuts and grazes. To prevent problems with your feet, keep your nails short and wash your feet daily using warm water. Wear shoes that fit properly with proper socks.

You may not be able to feel cuts, blisters or grazes if the nerves in your feet are damaged. So regularly check your feet for them. See foot care specialists (a podiatrist or chiropodist) regularly so any problems can be detected early. If you have a minor foot injury that doesn't start to heal within a few days consult your GP.

Regular Eye Tests:

Prolonged  blood glucose level can damage  the small blood vessels in your eye. Check for diabetic retinopathy once a year. Untreated, retinopathy can eventually lead to vision loss. People with diabetes should also see their optician every years for a regular eye test along with diabetic retinopathy screening.

Pregnancy:

Women with diabetes can give birth to a healthy baby if the blood glucose level is tightly controlled before becoming pregnant and during the first eight weeks of your baby's development. To reduce the risk of birth defects you should

Check your medications :

You may have to switch to insulin injections as some medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes may harm your baby.

Take a higher dose of folic acid :

It is recommended to take a higher dose of folic acid tablets as  folic acid helps prevent your baby developing spinal cord problems.

Have your eyes checked:

It is important to treat retinopathy before you become pregnant, as pregnancy can place extra pressure on the small vessels in your eyes.

 


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