Living With Diabetes: Practical Ways To Manage The Condition Better (Part 2)

by Dr. Jonathan D'Souza

According to the World Health Organization, around 347 million people worldwide have diabetes. Obesity, physical inactivity, lack of awareness and increased levels of stress can all be factors that elevate your blood sugar levels.

However, though there is no cure for diabetes, you can live a normal and enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it. In the first part of the living with diabetes series, we told you how food, exercise and alcohol influence your blood glucose levels and what you can do to manage them.

In the second part of this series, we tell you how medicines, stress, illness and hormonal changes all play a crucial role in regulating your blood sugar levels.

1) Medicines
Diabetes medications and insulin therapy are recommended when blood sugar levels can’t be controlled by diet and exercise alone. The effectiveness of the medicines depends on the dosage and the time they are taken at. Medicines taken for conditions other than diabetes can also influence your blood sugar levels.

  • Inform Your Doctor When Taking A New Medicine
    Always inform your doctor before taking an over-the-counter medicine, especially if you’re using strong drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, as they may interfere with your diabetes medicine. Besides, certain medicines can be sugar-coated to mask the bitterness and your doctor may suggest a sugar-free alternative for you.
  • Store Insulin Correctly
    Being a hormone, insulin is sensitive to temperature extremes and gets spoiled(less effective) if not stored properly. Insulin that is past its expiry date or improperly stored should always be discarded.
  • Notify The Doctor
    Consult your doctor if your diabetes medications are causing a significant drop in blood sugar levels or if the blood sugar is too high. In such cases, the timing and dosage of the medicines might need to be altered.

2) Stress
While stress can hamper your overall health, people with diabetes should be extra careful as excessive stress can fiddle with their blood sugar levels. Try to get rid of what’s bothering you physically or mentally. Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can help reduce the stress and also restore your mental peace.

3) Illness
During an illness, your body produces stress hormones to fight the infection. However, these stress hormones could also raise your blood sugar levels. Your appetite might also go for a toss, making it difficult to manage diabetes. In such cases, your doctor may change the doses of your medicines and insulin to help you cope with the sickness better.

4) Menstruation & Menopause
Hormonal fluctuations before, or during, menstruation can cause blood sugar levels to either rise or fall significantly, especially a few years before and during menopause. Always keep your doctor informed if you have any problems with your periods. Here are a few things you can keep in mind.

  • Keep a track of your blood sugar readings every month to note any blood sugar fluctuations during your monthly period
  • Menopause symptoms such as headache, nausea, anxiety and excessive sweating can easily be confused with symptoms of low blood sugar. Consult your doctor if you think you’re experiencing menopause
  • While most women with diabetes can use birth control pills without any problems, some may see a spike in blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor to learn which oral contraceptives you can take so that they do not interfere with your diabetes medicines.

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