Unlike other diseases, diabetes cannot be cured as such. This can be controlled and the person affected with diabetes can afford to have a normal life if he or she manages to keep the blood sugar levels within permissible levels. Many factors - diet, alcohol, activity, stress, illness, medications and changes in hormone levels - can affect your blood sugar. But you can monitor your level with frequent blood glucose self-testing. These tests are available over-the-counter at pharmacies. You prick the tip of your finger and touch a drop of your blood to a strip of paper. You compare the color on the strip of paper to a chart to determine your blood sugar level. Knowing the level of sugar in your blood helps you learn what makes your blood sugar levels rise and fall, so you can adjust your treatment.
Changes in your routine can cause swings in your blood sugar level. Here are suggestions for how to handle factors that affect your level:
Balance your diet and medications If you take diabetes medications, be consistent on a day-to-day basis in the timing and amount of food you eat. By controlling when you eat and how much, you control the times your blood sugar is higher, such as after meals, and how high or low your blood sugar level goes. Whenever you go off schedule, you risk upsetting the balance between your diet and your medication. Too little food in comparison to your medication may result in very low blood sugar and a hypoglycemic reaction. Too much food, and your blood sugar will be too high.
Test yourself after exercising Exercise usually lowers your blood sugar level for several hours. But exercise can also increase your blood sugar if your insulin level is too low. Until you know how your body responds to exercise, test your blood glucose just after exercising and then again several hours later.
Monitor the effects of stress and illness Psychological stress or the physical stress of a cold, influenza (flu) or a bacterial illness can cause your body to produce hormones that prevent insulin from working properly. Major trauma or other medical problems, such as a heart attack, also can increase blood sugar levels dramatically. During times of stress and illness, it's important to monitor blood glucose frequently. You should also have a vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia and a yearly flu shot.
Avoid alcohol Alcohol prevents the release of glucose from your liver and can increase the risk of your blood sugar falling too low. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so only in moderation, and eat food before you have a drink.