According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes complications raise our chances of other complications. Their example: smoking doubles the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes. In the United States alone there were 34.2 MILLION people living with diabetes in 2018 and roughly 1.5 million people are diagnosed every year, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Living with diabetes is a common problem in the United States and the seventh leading cause of death (according to the ADA). Therefore, it is vital that you adjust your lifestyle to avoid diabetes complications.

Check out these five tips on how to do just that:

1) Stay Up to Date on Your Preventative Care

For diabetic patients, it is especially important to have an extensive medical team in their corner for preventative care. By regularly seeing your primary care provider, you can not only keep your diabetes under control, but you can also avoid other health problems and diabetes complications. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, keeping your vaccinations up-to-date, and getting all recommended physicals and exams can all prevent life-threatening complications.

In order to get the quality care you will need, it is a good idea to look into affordable family health care plans to get an affordable plan for your health insurance. By comparing health care coverage with Health Quote Gurus, you can find affordable health insurance for your (and of your family member’s) health care needs. Going through a health insurance marketplace can help you find Blue Cross shield plans, family health care plans, Medicare plans, and other health insurance plans designed to fit your specific health care needs.

Bonus tip: If you don’t get health insurance through your employer, consider looking for plans during the open enrollment period (a special enrollment period may apply for those qualified through the health insurance marketplace). Applying during the open enrollment period gives you an even better chance of getting health insurance at a great price from established providers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield.

2) Pay Attention to Your Foot Health

Due to high blood sugar levels, diabetes can reduce blood flow to the feet and cause all kinds of foot problems. Things such as foot ulcers, sores, peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensation caused by nerve damage), damage to the blood vessels, and increased risk of infections are all possible due to improper blood flow, according to the CDC. Therefore, maintaining proper diabetic foot care is critical to making sure you maintain proper foot health and avoid amputations.

The ideal way to maintain proper foot health is to regularly see a foot and ankle specialist (preferably, a licensed podiatrist). Consider seeking diabetic foot care in Pennsylvania for preventative care or to treat any discomfort you may be experiencing (such as ankle sprains, heel pain, foot pain, etc.). The Foot and Ankle Specialists of Central PA can also advise you on ankle care, message frequency, and advise you on the best diabetic shoes for superior comfort and prevention of future complications.

3) Develop an Exercise Routine

Exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight (or, losing weight if you’re overweight) and a healthy weight is linked to decreased health-related problems that will negatively affect diabetes (like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.). According to the CDC, a mere five to seven percent weight loss lowers the risk of complications. They recommend 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week (or, 150 minutes a week).

4) Develop a Healthy Diet and Medication Plan

A healthy diet, an eating schedule, and a medication schedule are crucial to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, a “diabetes diet” is generally just sticking to healthy foods in moderation at “regular meal times” (usually 3 meals a day at the same time). It is always important to take your medications as directed and plan your mealtimes accordingly.

5) Take Care of Your Teeth and Eyes

Taking special care to make sure that your health care coverage includes access to medical services such as dental and vision is extremely important if you (or a family member) have diabetes. If your insurance company doesn’t cover dental exams it is important to invest in dental insurance plans. According to the American Dental Association, when diabetes isn’t properly controlled it can lead to secondary conditions such as a burning sensation in the mouth (caused by neuropathy), increased risk and severity of infections, gingivitis, periodontitis, and salivary gland enlargement.

Diabetics should receive a dilated eye exam at least once a year because the effect diabetes has on the blood vessels can cause diabetic retinopathy, which is the most common cause of vision impairment and blindness in the United States. The number of cases of diabetic retinopathy is expected to be at 14.6 million by 2050 (don’t be one of those numbers).