What is diabetes?
Your body changes the food you eat into sugar, which it uses for energy.
Diabetes is a health condition that causes sugar to build up in your blood, instead of being used by your body.
If you have diabetes, your cells cannot use sugar for energy.
The body is able to use 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 make enough insulin, or
- Your body does make insulin, but does not use it correctly.
Anyone can get diabetes.
Diabetes is very common.
But, you are more likely to develop diabetes if you:
- Are overweight or obese,
- Are over the age of 40,
- Have a family history of diabetes, and/or
- Are African-American, Hispanic, or Native American.
Diabetes can make you very sick.
Too much or too little sugar in your blood could cause you to lose consciousness.
Over time, diabetes can lead to:
- Damage to your nerves or kidneys,
- Eye trouble, including blindness,
- Unhealthy feet,
- The removal of your foot or leg, and/or
- Heart disease.
You may be able to tell if you are developing diabetes.
Some common symptoms of diabetes are:
- Being constantly hungry and/or thirsty,
- Needing to urinate more than usual,
- Having frequent vaginal infections,
- Feeling tired, and
- Sleeping more than usual.
More signs of diabetes:
Other commons symptoms are:
- Blurry vision,
- Numb or tingling hands or feet,
- Cuts or sores that do not heal, and
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
If you notice these signs, see your doctor right away!
Your doctor will be able to tell if you are developing diabetes. Your doctor will test the amount of sugar that is in your blood. If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, this may mean that you have diabetes.
You can manage diabetes and stay healthy.
Managing diabetes means learning to control the amount of sugar in your blood.
Your doctor will give you advice, which may include:
- A special food plan,
- An exercise plan,
- Blood sugar tests, and/or
Your support provider can help you manage diabetes.
Managing diabetes can be complicated. You may need to:
- Plan and cook special meals,
- Remember when to take your medication, or
- Need help taking medication.
Ask for help if you need it!
You can talk to your doctor about managing diabetes.
You may need to change your diet from time to time.
Find out if a physical activity that you enjoy is safe for you, and exercise for 30 minutes each day.
Test your blood sugar often and know what the normal level should be.
Know when and how to take your medications.
If you do not have diabetes, you may be able to prevent it.
You can prevent type 2 diabetes by:
- Exercising regularly (30 minutes on most days),
- Keeping a healthy weight,
- Eating plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, and/or
- Eating less sugary foods, fast foods, and soda.
You can learn more.
Read about diabetes at:
Read about diabetes and nutrition here.
Your support providers can read more about diabetes in the Preventing and Managing Diabetes Newsletter!