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Diabetes and Your Blood Sugar

A shot of insulin

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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a health condition that causes sugar to build up in your blood, instead of being used by your body. The body uses sugar by making a chemical called ‘insulin.’ Insulin controls the amount of sugar in your blood. If you have diabetes, you do not have enough insulin, or the insulin is not working in the correct way.

There are two types of diabetes.

If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make any insulin.

If you have type 2 diabetes:

  • Your body does not produce enough insulin, or
  • Your body does produce insulin, but it does not use it correctly.

People with diabetes can have high or low blood sugar levels.

Too much sugar can build up in your blood if you do not eat properly or take your medicine.

Sometimes, your blood sugar levels can become too low. This mostly happens when:

  • You skip a meal,
  • You take too much medicine, and/or
  • You exercise too much.

If you have diabetes, it is important for you to control your blood sugar levels.

High or low blood sugar can cause serious health problems, including:

  • Loss of consciousness,
  • Unhealthy eyes (or even blindness),
  • Unhealthy feet, 
  • The removal of a foot or leg, and/or
  • Heart disease.

By knowing the signs of high and low blood sugar, you can protect yourself.

Common signs of high blood sugar include:

  • Feeling thirsty or hungry all of the time,
  • Feeling weak or tired,
  • Having blurry vision,
  • Having dry skin, and
  • Needing to urinate often. 

Signs of low blood sugar

Common signs of low blood sugar include:

  • Having blurry vision,
  • Feeling weak or tired,
  • Feeling shaky or dizzy,
  • Feeling upset or nervous,
  • Feeling hungry,
  • Sweating a lot, and
  • Having a headache. 

If you have diabetes, you can stay healthy by checking your blood sugar.

Most people check their blood sugar levels by testing a drop of their blood on a special meter (often called a glucose meter).

Your support staff can help you to test your blood sugar levels.

Your doctor can tell you what your blood sugar level should normally be in different situations.

If your blood sugar level is too high, it can cause a health emergency.

If you have taken your medications as instructed by your doctor, but your blood sugar level is still too high, you should call your doctor right away!

The doctor may need to change your treatment to keep your blood sugar levels under control.

If your blood sugar levels are too low, you can do something about it.

You can eat certain foods to raise your blood sugar to the correct level.

To raise your blood sugar, you can eat or drink ONE of these choices:

  • Three pieces of hard candy or three glucose tablets, 
  • A small cup of orange juice, 
  • A little more than half a can of regular soda (not diet), or
  • One tablespoon of sugar.

To prevent high or low blood sugar, follow your doctor’s instructions and test your blood sugar often.

By checking your blood sugar often, you can make sure it stays near your normal range.

If you need help, ask your support provider to help you.

By keeping your blood sugar levels under control, you can stay healthy.

Check out these resources to learn more about blood sugar and diabetes.

Learn more about diabetes and your blood sugar here.

Get a list of “Questions to Ask Your Doctor: Diabetes" here.

Get a “Diabetes Health Record Card" here

Last updated on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 11:12