Written by Papatya Tankut
It's not easy for anyone to hear they have been diagnosed with diabetes. But for many Americans, learning about diabetes is the first step toward feeling better and living a longer, healthier life. There are a number of steps that can be taken to help manage treatment while keeping healthy and enhancing quality of life.
CVS pharmacists are available every day to work with patients to help improve their overall health by helping them understand specific steps that can be taken to make living with diabetes easier. Here are my best tips for those who are newly diagnosed to get started on a path to better health.
Tip #1: Dedicate time to exercise. Exercising is an important part of any diabetes management plan. Exercising regularly not only uses sugar (glucose) for energy, but also can improve your body’s response to insulin and together, these factors can lower blood sugar levels. Health care professionals, such as doctors or pharmacists, can help patients and their caregivers identify a healthy plan for incorporating exercising into a daily routine. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get started on an exercise plan today.
Tip #2: Stay informed about dietary needs. Making conscious nutritional choices is something to consider when newly diagnosed with diabetes. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, monitoring carbohydrate intake and adding exercise to daily routines can help with diabetes treatment and improve overall health. There are a number of resources available to help guide nutritional habits, including CVS.com/diabetes, which offers a variety of recipe ideas that are not only healthy, but the whole family will enjoy.
Tip #3: Understand medications and adherence. Many treatment methods incorporate a regimen of pills or insulin, so understanding your medication and adherence needs is essential. Whether uncertain about a specific medication, experiencing a side effect, or have questions about specific diabetic needs, it’s important to voice these concerns to a pharmacist. Each person has a different lifestyle, and may react differently to new medications or lifestyle changes, so it’s essential to have conversations with a medication expert.
Tip #4: Know when and how often to test blood sugar levels. When it comes to diabetes care, blood sugar monitoring is essential for keeping this chronic condition under control and preventing long-term complications. Blood sugar monitoring tests can be performed with a meter that measures sugar levels from a small drop of blood and can provide helpful insight into diabetes management and treatment. Each person has specific monitoring needs, so it’s important to consult a health care professional on when and how often to check blood sugar levels to ensure efficient treatments are in place.
In addition to regularly checking blood glucose levels, A1C (or average blood glucose over a three month period) is another important test that is generally administered anywhere from two to four times a year. To get the most out of monitoring, know when to test and how to act on the results. Consult a health care professional for help with individualized testing tips, best practices and deciphering what results mean.
Tip #5: Understand new health care costs. From new prescriptions to doctor’s visits to new diabetic supplies, people living with diabetes will experience an increase in health care costs, which are two to three times more than those without the chronic condition. Whether using private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare coverage, there are ways to reduce out-of-pocket costs. The CVS/pharmacy ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes® program offers savings on more than 100 products used to manage diabetes, including testing supplies, glucose test strips and glucose meters. The program also has health and lifestyle tips, and is a fantastic resource for people living with diabetes and their caregivers.
Papatya Tankut is vice president of pharmacy affairs at CVS/pharmacy.