Saturday, June 18, 2005

Little Things Can Mean a Lot

Managing diabetes can be a tedious ordeal. Constant vigilance is required to watch all that you eat while constantly monitoring blood sugar levels. In the midst of all the "big stuff," Judith H. McQuown, diabetic and author of 1,001 Tips for Living Well with Diabetes: Firsthand Advice That Really Works, said she has found some little things that have made a big difference for her in coping with diabetes. Some of her favorite strategies include...
*Double-check unusual test results. Don't immediately take a glucose tablet or adjust medications when you get a blood glucose reading that's unusually high or low. Repeat the test -- and then repeat it a third time if the first two tests are off by more than a few points. Unusual readings when you don't feel any differently could be due to contamination from trace amounts of food or other substances on the fingertips.
*Buy sugar-free medicines. The sugar in cough syrups, some antacids and other medications makes it harder to control blood glucose. Some over-the-counter drugs can change blood glucose readings by up to 50 points. Buy drugs with the words "sugar-free" prominently displayed on the label.
*Use the smallest-gauge needles for injecting insulin. Smaller needles -- say, a 31-gauge needle instead of a 28 -- do the same job with less pain and tissue damage. Ask your doctor to prescribe the smallest gauge needle available.
*Take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement. A recent study found that only 17% of people with type 2 diabetes who took a multi got an infectious illness, compared with 93% of those taking a placebo.
*Experiment with lancing devices. They're not all the same. Some penetrate too deeply or are hard to use. Try different ones to see what's best for you. Consider a pressure-adjustable model, which allows you to dial in different pressures for different fingers.
Give your fingertips a rest. It's fine to check blood sugar by lancing other parts of your body -- your forearm, calf, thigh, etc. Caution: You must use fingertip blood when testing for hypoglycemia.

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