Expert tips on how to prevent, handle complications from the disease
Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra
The goal of diabetes management is to keep your sugar levels as near to normal as possible by balancing food intake with medication and activity, says Dr Eric Njenga, consultant physician-endocrinology instructor at Aga Khan University hospital,
“As we all know healthy eating is a cornerstone for healthy living with or without diabetes.
However, with diabetes ensuring you have a glimpse of how certain foods affect your sugar levels is important.
But, due to stigma, ensure the family is well educated on how to balance food content to avoid spiking sugar levels,” he says.
The key to diabetes management is learning how to count carbohydrates and to incorporate portion sizes.
This, he says, will ensure sugar levels is contained since carbohydrates have the biggest impact on sugar level. Coordinating meals and medication is also vital.
“Having too little food in proportion to your diabetes medications may result in generally low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia).
Also too much food might result in a high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia),” he adds.
People with diabetes also need to know when to take certain foods, for example, fruits should be taken hours after eating to avoid hyperglycemia.
While nutrition is an important for management, Dr Njenga says physical exercise should be incorporated in the diabetes management plan.
“Generally adults should have at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activities.
You should know your sugar levels before exercise as this will prevent future complications,” says Njenga.
He further advises that people with diabetes and their caregivers should be on the lookout for injuries because they might lead to infections, which result in complications.
Dr Njenga also highlights the importance of grooming, especially for elderly people.
They should be taken care of thoroughly as they are prone to getting infections from dirt and unhygienic environment, which may lead to complications.
Long term complications develop gradually, meaning the longer you have diabetes and take time healing the higher the risk of complications, which can be disabling or life threatening.
Some of these are kidney damage, which might lead to kidney failure, an irreversible complication; and cardiovascular diseases including coronary artery diseases, heart attack, stroke and narrowing arteries.
“The best way to avoid all these is by avoiding choices such as smoking, inactivity, and unhealthy eating.
Prevention solves so many issues that are likely to arise when it comes to diabetes,” he says.