3 Common Diabetes Mistakes

Mistakes … we all make them. When you’re first diagnosed with diabetes, there’s lots to learn, and a few mistakes are bound to happen. Here are 3 common ones, along with tips to help you avoid them:

man standing next to dart board

Don’t make these common diabetes management mistakes.

1. Not Testing Enough

Everyone’s diabetes is different, and your treatment plan needs to work for you. For a custom fit, test your blood sugar often when you’re first learning how your body responds to food and activity. Keep track of eating, exercise, and blood sugar levels so you can spot highs and lows and figure out what caused them. Then work with your doctor to adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Getting sick affects your blood sugar levels too. You may not feel like eating, which makes blood sugar harder to manage. If you have a flu-like illness, test every four hours, track the results, and call your doctor if your blood sugar is lower than 70 mg/dL or stays over 240 mg/dL for 2 tests in a row. If your blood sugar is very high, also test your urine for ketones using an over-the-counter ketone test kit. Call your doctor if your ketones are high. High ketones can be an early sign of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a medical emergency and needs to be treated right away.

2. Not Moving Enough

People with diabetes get big benefits from being physically active, such as more effective management of blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and weight. Physical activity can also help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease and nerve damage.

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym. A smart move is setting a reasonable, specific goal, such as walking for 15 minutes after dinner. Build up gradually until you’re active for 30 minutes on most days. Be sure to check with your doctor about which activities are best for you and if there are any you should avoid.

Still dragging your feet? Test your blood sugar before and after you’ve been active and see the fruits of your labor. Make it a habit, and physical activity can also lower your A1c.

3. Not Checking Up

You’ve got diabetes, and you’re managing it well—eating healthy, being active most days of the week, taking meds as prescribed. In fact, you feel pretty good. People who feel good can skip a few doctor’s appointments, right?

Wrong! Seeing your health care team regularly is an essential part of your treatment plan. For one thing, you may not know if you’re developing a diabetes-related health complication because there may not be symptoms. Following your schedule of checkups and tests will help catch complications early when treatment is most effective. Another big reason not to miss checkups: adjusting your treatment plan with your doctor or dentist as needed so you can be your healthiest and feel your best.

Page last reviewed: August 13, 2021