Managing Your Diabetes
What is diabetes?
If you or someone you know has diabetes, it means your body has trouble turning sugar into energy. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can be managed by working with your doctor and taking good care of yourself through a healthy diet and exercise. If diabetes is not well managed, it can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, stroke, coma, and even death.
What are the different types of diabetes?
There are three different types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is usually found in children or young adults. This happens when your body does not make any insulin. Insulin is what helps your body turn sugar into energy.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and can affect people of any age. This happens when your body can no longer manage the amount of sugar in your body, or change that sugar into energy.
- Gestational diabetes is when pregnant women are found to have higher than normal levels of sugar in their blood.
What are the signs of diabetes to watch for?
The signs of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- In type 1 - weight loss even though you are eating more
- In type 2 - tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet
Pregnant women often do not experience any signs of gestational diabetes and must rely on their doctor to measure the levels of sugar in their blood during pregnancy.
How do I know I am getting high quality diabetes care?
Part of living a healthy life with diabetes includes visiting your doctor regularly. Your doctor should give you screening tests to make sure your blood sugar, cholesterol, kidneys, and eyes are all okay. National standards recommend that adults ages 18-75 living with diabetes be screened at least once per year. You and your doctor should also talk about exercising regularly and eating a diet that is healthy for patients with diabetes.
What questions should I ask my doctor about diabetes?
- What type of diabetes do I have, and how do you know that I have it?
- Will I always have diabetes?
- What is my blood sugar (also called HbA1c) level? Is this number good, or does it need to go down?
- What is my cholesterol level? Is this number good, or does it need to go down?
- What is my blood pressure? Is this number good, or does it need to go down?
- Do I need to go for any more tests after this visit?
- Do I need to make any changes to my diet or exercise routine?
- What medicine should I take and how should I take it?
- Can we review all of my medicines to make sure I am taking them correctly?
- How long will it be until my next visit?
- What signs or problems should I watch for in the meantime? Should I call your office if any of them happen?