Diabetes is a health condition that demands your constant attention, whether you’ve been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2. Managing it well means being vigilant. Wherever you go, diabetes goes. Still, diabetes is just one aspect of your life, so don’t let it prevent you from doing and being everything you want to be. Preparation is the key.

Day in and day out

Once you establish a diabetes management routine, you’ll know best what your body needs throughout a typical 24-hour cycle. You’ll soon get into a new “life with diabetes” rhythm. These are the types of things that will become part of your regular to-do list:

  • Purchasing supplies (insulin, medication, test strips, monitoring equipment, etc.)
  • Keeping (and refilling) supplies and snacks in your purse or backpack
  • Building exercise into your daily schedule
  • Connecting with a diabetes support group
  • Scheduling regular visits with your primary provider, eye doctor, and dentist
  • Choosing a pharmacy you trust and can get to easily
  • Paying attention to changes in your health and reporting them to your healthcare providers
  • Staying informed about the latest diabetes research and product innovations
  • Feeling proud of yourself for taking care of your health

At work

People with diabetes can pursue virtually any type of employment, so there’s no reason your diagnosis has to stand in the way of your professional goals. However, it’s important that you map out a diabetes management strategy that complements your job responsibilities and work environment.

  • Keep a dedicated stock of your diabetes supplies at your job and replenish it regularly.
  • Make sure at least one of your co-workers is aware that you have diabetes and knows what to do in the case of a medical emergency.
  • Adjust your diabetes management plan to suit any changes to your work hours or to the level of physical exertion your job requires.
  • Know that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with diabetes from job discrimination that’s directly related to the condition. It also requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” so that you can perform your functions at work.

When you travel

Adaptability is the key to successful travel, especially for people with diabetes. Unpredictable transportation schedules, meal times, and sleep patterns are often part of the travel experience. So, wherever you go and however you get there, be sure you’re prepared for unscripted moments.

  • Pack more supplies (insulin, medication, monitoring equipment, etc.) than you’ll need for the trip.
  • Put enough supplies in your carry-on bag to see you through until you can replace them if your checked luggage gets lost or delayed.
  • Keep snacks with you so that you can control your blood sugar at all times.
  • Research the locations of pharmacies and medical facilities at your destination, just in case.
  • Maintain your at-home monitoring schedule, healthy eating habits, and exercise routines while you’re away from home. If you’re traveling for pleasure, don’t let the vacation vibe take away from all your healthy work!
  • Ask about the availability of in-room refrigerators in hotels so that you can keep your insulin cool.

Emergency preparedness

For people with diabetes, being ready for natural disasters and other emergencies can be a real — and literal — lifesaver. Here are a few tips that can get you started with your own emergency plan:

  • Add diabetes and wound-cleaning supplies to the contents of standard emergency kits you keep at home, at work, in your car, and in any other locations where you routinely spend time.
  • Put a piece of paper in each of your emergency kits that has contact information for your healthcare providers and family members.
  • Ask your healthcare providers about wearing a medical alert bracelet that identifies you as a person with diabetes.
  • Make your diabetes status clear to first responders and other people around you in the event of an emergency so that they will be better able to help you if needed.

Diabetes and sexual health

Many people with diabetes experience changes in sexual function. Although these physical effects are talked about less than other symptoms of diabetes, they’re still health concerns that are important to address. Don’t be shy about discussing them with your doctor! High blood glucose levels, cardiovascular issues, nerve problems, medications, or a combination of these factors can affect your sex life. Talk to a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any of these sexual concerns:

  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Difficulty reaching orgasm
  • Pain during sex

Additional information about diabetes and sexual health is available from the American Diabetes Association.

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