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Coping With Diabetes

Coping with diabetes typically involves a combination of physical treatments and psychological adjustments.

Over time, diabetes can affect the kidney, eyes and other vital organs and systems. The kidneys may filter less efficiently. Eyesight may become less sharp. But all those physical circumstances can be managed through careful diet, exercise, and (if needed) drugs. But coping with the disease and its effects involves another dimension, one less easy to quantify and treat, and one which has both physical and mental consequences. Stress from being concerned about those effects can be both cause and consequence. Stress weakens the immune system, which in turn reduces the body's ability to ward off infection, colds and so forth. Those are just some of the possible complications of diabetes. But those in turn may lead to additional stress as the ability to function is reduced. A vicious cycle is established. Breaking that cycle requires a broad spectrum of diabetes management techniques. Keeping the body as healthy as possible will minimize the effects. Keeping the right attitude will help reduce the odds of the effects occurring in the first place. That's not easy. Accepting that management of diabetes and its effects is a long term, often a lifetime, proposition is the first step. Careful monitoring of blood glucose levels is a basic and essential factor. Controlling that level - by diet, exercise, and (if necessary) medications - is vital. That helps reduce the physical strain on body systems. That helps reduce the worry. Monitoring and management will need to become a daily routine, as common as brushing your teeth. Knowledge can help motivate the patient to engage in that practice. Being fully aware of the possible complications, and the near certainty of having them if inaction is the choice made, can provide an incentive to take action. Knowing what your body will do can help you control both the potentially harmful physical effects and your attitude about them. But knowledge alone doesn't lead to the right course of action. A commitment of the will is essential. It takes courage to control diabetes and lead a normal life. That kind of courage is larger in some ways than the type required for emergencies. Long term commitments to meeting daily challenges requires the kind of patience and fortitude that is tougher to call up all the time than for a one-time event. But that kind of commitment doesn't happen simply by wishing for it. Few can simply will themselves onto the right path. It starts by facing small challenges and overcoming them. A minor dietary change. The adoption of a single brief exercise routine three times a week. Then the actions can become wider - more dietary changes - and longer term, more exercise routines carried out every day. As you conquer those small hills a little bit at a time, you gain the confidence that you can tackle larger ones and over a lifetime. In time, managing diabetes for most people becomes a routine little more difficult than doing an average school or work assignment. It becomes a few more things on the list of daily challenges to meet and solve in order to get those daily rewards.