Diabetes Q and A

By Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N

Q The winter killed my skin! It is red, chapped and itchy. What do you suggest?

A Here are several suggestions that may help:

  • Use plenty of moisturizing lotion or cream to relieve the itch that often comes with dry skin. It can help heal the irritation and cracking, and also prevent future damage from occurring.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Keep your blood glucose level in a healthy range. A high level can cause the skin to become dehydrated and slow healing.
  • Wear gloves while the weather is cold.

If the irritation continues, see your doctor or dermatologist for additional guidance.

When you have diabetes, it is important to protect your skin from injury as cuts can invite the development of an unwanted infection. Hang in there. The weather should be improving soon!

Q I keep chocolates in my home in case my blood sugar drops. A friend told me that people with diabetes shouldn’t eat chocolates. Why not?

A People with diabetes can enjoy most foods, including a small amount of chocolate, if it fits into their daily meal plan. But chocolate is not the best food choice when managing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The fat in the chocolate slows down its absorption, so it won’t raise your glucose level as quickly as other foods will. If that’s all you have handy you can use it, but it isn’t ideal. When treating a low blood glucose level, use the 15/15 Rule:

  1. Eat 15 grams of a fast acting carbohydrate, such as those listed below.87690229
  2. Wait 15 minutes
  3. Test again
  4. Repeat if needed

The following items contain approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • ½ cup (4 oz) of fruit juice
  • Half a can of regular (not diet) soda
  • 2-5 Glucose tablets (check label)
  • Two tablespoons of raisins
  • 5-7 hard candies

Your blood sugar level will begin to rise before the unpleasant feelings disappear, so don’t keep eating or drinking until the feelings go away. That will cause your glucose level to climb too high and may cause you to gain weight.

Q I was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I’m so ashamed. Do I have to tell people I have it?

A First, let’s tackle your feelings of shame. You did NOT cause your diabetes. Diabetes is a complex condition that can be triggered by certain lifestyle behaviors, such as weight gain and inactivity, but you must inherit the potential to get it. You are also not alone. 23.6 million Americans have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes, which means they are on their way to developing it. The good news is that you can now take steps to become healthier. Attend a diabetes class and learn how to make better food choices, achieve a healthy weight, and feel better than you have felt in a long time.

As for telling people, your medical health is a personal issue. Share your diabetes information with those who can support you and help you in an emergency. If you believe someone will make fun of you or make it more difficult for you to care for your health, don’t say a word.

*This article originally appeared in 2010
**please consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diabetes regimen.

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