What is diabetes?

  • Diabetes is lifelong. It affects how the body gets energy from food, resulting in too much sugar in the blood, but not enough for the muscles and brain.
  • High blood sugar leads to hypertension, strokes, heart attacks and damage to the kidneys, eyes and feet.
  • The goal of diabetes treatment is an HbA1C below 8% (ideally below 7%). HbA1C reflects how sugary the blood has been for the past 3 months.

What can help you reach your goal for diabetes?

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Eat healthily

  • Cut down on starchy food like white bread, samp, noodles, potato, butternut, mielies, white rice.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, sweet treats and alcohol.
  •  Avoid sugar and honey. Use artificial sweetener instead.
  • Eat regular meals. Cut down on portion sizes.
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Stop smoking

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Get active

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise 5 days a week.
  • Try some exercises in your home or yard.
  • Do the sweeping or dance to music.
  • Take part in an exercise programme on TV or online.

Keep a check on your condition

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Look after your feet to prevent ulcers and amputation.

  • Inspect your feet and shoes daily.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry between the toes.
  • Don’t walk bare-foot. Wear shoes that fit.
  • Don’t cut your corns or calluses yourself.
  • Don’t burn your feet with water or heaters.

Watch your weight
Try to lose weight if you can.

Check your glucose if you can
If your glucose is over 10, discuss it with your healthcare worker.

Take your medication as instructed​

  • Take your medication daily for life to prevent heart attacks, strokes and damage to the kidneys, eyes and feet.
  • If you stopped your medication, restart it.
  • Take your medication with meals.
  • If you take insulin, use and store it correctly.
  • Check the medication list to understand how your medication works and what side effects it might cause.
  • If you have too much medication left over or are unsure how to take it, ask your healthcare worker.
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If you feel dizzy, sweaty, shaky or confused, you may have low blood sugar. Eat or drink something sugary immediately. Follow with starchy food like a sandwich. If you are no better or it happens more than once, seek healthcare.

Know when to seek healthcare

If you have any of the following, seek healthcare urgently:

  • Chest pain – it may be a heart attack
  • Difficulty breathing
  • If you use enalapril and develop swelling of the tongue or face
  • Sudden weakness of an arm, leg, side of face – may be a stroke
  • Sudden loss of speech or vision – may be a stroke
  • Low blood sugar not improving with sugar-water
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Make contact with your healthcare facility if:

  • You have more than one low blood sugar episode.
  • You have a sore on your foot.
  • You run out of medication.
  • You don’t understand how to take your medication.
  • You have an appointment for a check-up.
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