According to the Diabetes Research Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 37.3 million Americans – 11.3 percent of the population – have diabetes. Of those, approximately 8.5 million have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed.
There are three main types of diabetes, including:
- Type 1, in which the body does not produce the insulin needed to take the glucose (sugar) from the food consumed and convert them into energy for the body. If you have type 1 diabetes, you need to take insulin every day.
- Type 2, is the most common form of diabetes, in which the body doesn’t produce enough or use insulin well. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may need to take medicine or insulin to control it.
- Gestational diabetes is essentially temporary diabetes in pregnant women. This type of diabetes often goes away after the baby is born but increases the mother and child’s risk of developing diabetes later in life.
The good news is that if you are diagnosed with diabetes, it can be managed. Here’s what you need to know to stay healthy.
Tips for Managing Diabetes
The first step in managing diabetes is to learn more about the condition. You can read about diabetes online at the National Diabetes Education Program. You can also take classes that focus on living with diabetes by checking with your healthcare team, local hospital, or local health clinic. You can also join an in-person or online support group.
The second step in managing your diabetes is to understand and keep track of your ABCs – A1C blood test, blood pressure, and cholesterol. This will help lower your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and other diabetes-related problems.
The A1C test measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. Elevated levels of blood sugar can be harmful to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes. For many people with diabetes, the A1C goal is below 7, but ask your health team what your goal should be. For most people, the blood pressure goal is below 140/90. A total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL is considered normal, with an LDL level below 130 mg/dL and an HDL level above 40 mg/DL.
The third step in managing your diabetes involves making lifestyle changes that work with your condition, not against it. That can be done by:
- Eating well by making a meal plan with the help of your healthcare team. Choose foods that are low in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt – such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese – and contain more fiber, such as whole grain cereals, bread, crackers, rice, or pasta. Also, drink water instead of juice and soda.
- Lowering your stress, which can raise your blood sugar. Effective methods include deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, taking a walk, gardening, or working on a hobby.
- Staying active with exercise, yoga, or any activity that increases your muscle strength. The goal is to maintain a healthy weight by moving more and using a meal plan.
- Sticking to your daily routine. This includes taking your medicine, checking your feet each day for cuts, blisters, red spots, or swelling, brushing and flossing your teeth to maintain good oral health, checking and recording your blood sugar and blood pressure regularly, and refraining from tobacco use.
The last step in managing your diabetes is to get regular care. Visit your healthcare team at least twice a year for check-ups and a review of your self-care plan. That way, you and your healthcare team can find and treat any problems early. Have an AC1 test two times a year, a cholesterol test, complete foot and dental exams, a flu shot, and urine and blood test once a year, and pneumonia and hepatitis B shot at least once in your lifetime.
Diabetes Patient Care in Syracuse, New York
The Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at SUNY Upstate Medical University offers the Upstate New York region excellence in patient care, teaching, and research in diabetes, thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, lipid, and calcium disorders, metabolic bones disease, and transgender medicine.
Our clinical practice, the Joslin Diabetes Center at Upstate, is affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, providing comprehensive, state-of-the-art team care for adults and children with diabetes. In addition, the clinical research team conducts numerous studies related to the prevention and management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and its complications.
To learn more about our patient care services, please click here.