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Managing diabetes in five simple steps

By Dr. Seema Csukas

CareSource Georgia Medical Director

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million people have diabetes in the United States, and 88 million adults 18 years or older have prediabetes. While we can’t control everything that impacts our health, we can control diabetes with a few simple steps. Dr. Seema Csukas, Medical Director of the Georgia Market at CareSource, a nonprofit health plan, has a few important measures to share on managing the disease.

Monitor your A1C, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol identify, diagnose and control diabetes, so it’s essential to discuss your long-term goals with your health care team to determine the appropriate levels for each. These numbers vary for each individual, and there is no one-size-fits-all target to reach. Checking your blood sugar at least once a day helps your doctor construct the proper treatment plan to monitor your diabetes.

Create and Sustain a Healthy Lifestyle

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains that over 80% of adults and adolescents do not get the recommended amount of physical activity. Developing a healthy eating plan and establishing an exercise routine creates healthy habits. Nutritious foods and physical activity should be top-of-mind for those developing or battling diabetes. Switching from soda to water, incorporating leaner protein in your diet and moving for at least 30 minutes a day are great ways manage the disease.

Develop Stress-Relieving Mechanisms

Chronic stress is a national epidemic for all genders and ages. Unfortunately, it has a direct effect on blood sugar, but developing coping mechanisms helps to relieve those levels. Try breathing exercises, yoga, physical activity or cooking. It’s also important to take notes on when you’re feeling increased stress in order to limit those instances in the future.

Take Medication as Prescribed

In a study conducted by the CDC, they found that among adults with diagnosed diabetes, women (14.9%) were more likely than men (11.6%) to not take their medication as prescribed. Taking medication as prescribed means taking it at the right dosage, at the right intervals, in the right ways. Straying from instructions can cause diabetes to worsen, lead to hospitalization or sometimes death. Create reminders on your phone, and tie taking your medication to a daily act.

Stop Smoking

Cigarettes and other tobacco products increase blood sugar levels, and high levels of nicotine can eventually lead to insulin resistance. No matter how often you use tobacco, smoking makes diabetes harder to control and can cause health problems such as heart and kidney disease. For assistance with quitting, call 1-800-QUITNOW, the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP, or visit smokefree.gov.

To help manage your diabetes, CareSource provides coverage for necessary exams and medications. It can also provide you with transportation to remove barriers from getting proper health care. For more information, visit www.caresource.com.

Dr. Seema Csukas is the medical director for non-profit CareSource Georgia. Dr. Csukas has more than 20 years of experience in health care leadership, having previously served as the medical director for both Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Public Health. She has also made extensive contributions in the field of neonatal, maternal and infant health policy.