Type 2 diabetes is a problem that affects millions of Americans. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that more than 37 million Americans have diabetes, most of which have type 2 diabetes.

Although diabetes is ranked as a top public health problem, many individuals with the condition are still uninformed on how to manage it properly. Unfortunately, poorly controlled diabetes can have devastating health impacts and severely depress people’s quality of life. Therefore, to help bring awareness and avoid preventable situations, we’re diving into seven common mistakes that people with diabetes sometimes make as they work to control their disease.

Mistake #1: Skipping Visits With Your Healthcare Providers

Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting multiple body systems, including your heart, eyes, nerves, feet, kidneys, and more. Therefore, it’s essential to keep appointments with your primary care physician and other healthcare professionals. Many people with diabetes mistakenly rely solely on their PCP, but proper management of diabetes truly requires a multidisciplinary team.

When diabetes is uncontrolled, you put yourself at risk of health implications that aren’t always noticeable until they’ve advanced. Here are some examples of often-overlooked ways that diabetes can impact your body:

  • Eye complications: Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults between 20 and 74. However, if your eye doctor detects diabetic eye disease early enough, you may be able to reduce your likelihood of advanced vision loss by 95%.
  • Gum disease: People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have periodontitis. Treatment of periodontitis may lead to reductions in one’s HbA1c, so dental interventions are imperative.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Individuals with diabetes are 2-4 times as likely to have heart attacks and strokes. Fortunately, healthcare providers can run blood tests and use electrocardiograms (ECG) to assess heart health and hopefully prevent irreversible damage.

As one study revealed, multidisciplinary team care can enhance diabetes treatment outcomes and help prevent or lower complications. Therefore, skipping appointments is not worth the potential adverse consequences.

Mistake #2: Sacrificing Your Sleep

Many Americans are sleep-deprived, but those with diabetes are more likely to experience sleep disorders. Numerous personal factors can drive sleep deprivation, including stress about work, family, and money. However, sometimes sleep quality is interrupted by complications of diabetes itself or its associated comorbidities. Discomfort brought on by restless legs syndrome, changing blood glucose levels, peripheral neuropathy, and more can make sleep hard to achieve.

If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, this may make it harder for you to keep your blood sugar in its target range. Sleep deprivation also has been shown to lead to increased snacking, and often, the snack choices we make in the middle of the night are not the healthiest. This can lead to weight gain, which can further complicate diabetic challenges.

To cope with these sleep issues, aim to follow a diet that keeps your blood sugar in check, avoid caffeine before bedtime, and create a regular sleep routine.

Mistake #3: Being Penny Wise, But Pound Foolish

Anyone who has set foot in a grocery store over the last year has seen prices skyrocket, including for staples such as eggs and milk. At the height of the egg price inflation, a dozen eggs ran $8-10 in many metropolitan areas. Although this price increase has hit everything in the store, anecdotal evidence suggests that it has been incredibly impactful on the price of meat, fish, and produce.

Many people have switched to junk food and other lower-priced options to make their grocery shopping dollars stretch further. Unfortunately, these options are unhealthy, and they can be especially dangerous for people with blood sugar challenges and co-morbid conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels.

There are better ways to stretch your food budget that will not harm your health or worsen your diabetes. For example, you can make one or two dinners each week meatless and substitute low-cost beans for meat-based proteins. Another tip is to shop local farmer’s markets for in-season produce, and if you have a green thumb, you may even want to try to grow some of your vegetables, like cucumbers and tomatoes.

Mistake #4: Failing to Monitor Your Blood Sugar Appropriately

Monitoring blood sugar is one of the most important things that a person with diabetes can do to ensure that their disease is under good control. It’s easy to overlook that our blood sugar levels are not constant during the day. It moves up and down in response to what you eat and your activity levels. Therefore, by measuring your blood sugar, you can assess if it’s too high or too low and then take action if needed.

Despite the importance of monitoring, many people with diabetes are not checking their blood sugar, and even those who are may not be testing enough. Inconsistent testing may occur due to individuals not liking needles or even being concerned about the cost of testing supplies. Some individuals also forego testing because they don’t understand the numbers and what they mean.

If these are concerns that you have, it’s important to contact your healthcare team. They’ll be able to identify other treatment options, look into resources that can assist you, and provide education on diabetes management.

As one study found, “diabetes self-management is correlated with good blood glucose control, fewer complications, improved quality of life and reduction in diabetes-related death risks.” Therefore, taking steps to manage it properly is crucial.

Mistake #5: Leading a Sedentary Life

Modern American life, by its very nature, is sedentary. We sit in our cars to drive to offices, where we sit at our desks all day before we get back in our vehicles. Then, when we return home for the evening, we plop ourselves down on the couch and watch television. As a result, the vast majority of us are failing to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week.

Although sitting down and leading a leisurely lifestyle might feel ideal at the moment, the negative impact it has on your body over time is tremendous. When you skip out on cardio and strength training exercises, you miss out on some of the many benefits associated with moving your body.

Harvard Health Publishing uncovered that exercise for people with diabetes could potentially lower HbA1c values and minimize insulin resistance. In addition, exercising is also beneficial in controlling other diseases and conditions that often go hand-in-hand with type 2 diabetes, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Mistake #6: Storing Insulin Incorrectly

In a healthy individual, insulin is produced in the pancreas and regulates a person’s blood sugar, keeping it within a healthy range. However, in diabetics, the body often cannot produce insulin or use it appropriately or effectively. Because of this, diabetics usually have to inject insulin to maintain their blood sugar levels in a healthy range. The most common way to deliver insulin is via an injection, although some people get insulin through a pump.

No matter how insulin is being delivered, it’s important to store your insulin in a way that maintains its effectiveness. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), insulin maintains its efficacy best if refrigerated. If a fridge is unavailable, it should be kept in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

One thing that is important to remember is that all drugs, including insulin, have expiration dates. Once insulin reaches this expiration date, it should be disposed of and no longer used.

If you have any questions about storing insulin appropriately, you should talk to your provider about this. They’ll be able to give you advice and recommendations.

Mistake #7: Giving Up On Medications Too Soon

In addition to insulin, there are other medications providers consider for treating type 2 diabetes. These medications are highly effective for some people but may also have significant and unpleasant side effects. Based on these side effects, many people may abruptly stop treatment, which often happens before the medication can effectively lower blood sugar.

It is crucial that you do not pull the plug too soon. If you are troubled with any side effects, please get in touch with your provider. They can either change you to another medication or give you ways to address these side effects.

The 7 Common Mistakes Diabetics Make Unveiled

If you read through this list and realize you’ve made a mistake or two, don’t beat yourself up. This resource was meant to unveil the mistakes many people with diabetes make so you can hopefully avoid or mitigate them.

You are not alone in your journey. Understand that Type 2 diabetes is a complex chronic condition that millions of people are trying to navigate. Fortunately, proper education and intervention can make a world of difference.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html#:~:text=More%20than%2037%20million%20Americans,them%20have%20type%202%20diabetes
  2. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diabetes-and-your-eyes-heart-nerves-feet-and-kidneys#:~:text=Diabetes%20is%20a%20serious%20disease,stay%20as%20healthy%20as%20possible.
  3. https://www.nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2019-06/diabetes-prevent-vision-loss.pdf
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31605062/#:~:text=Periodontitis%20and%20diabetes%20are%20complex,is%20key%20in%20determining%20risk.
  5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/diabetes-and-heart-disease
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32591227/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5628550/
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/snooze-more-eat-less-sleep-deprivation-may-hamper-weight-control-202204042718#:~:text=Insufficient%20sleep%20is%20associated%20with,bring%20them%20back%20to%20balance
  9. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/bloodglucosemonitoring.html
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6550406/
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
  12. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-exercise-when-you-have-diabetes
  13. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/emergency-preparedness-drugs/information-regarding-insulin-storage-and-switching-between-products-emergency#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20product%20labels,expiration%20date%20on%20the%20package.