Experts from the American Diabetes Association say that 1.5 million people will be told they have diabetes this year.1 That can be scary. But knowing that you have diabetes lets you start getting it under control. Taking care of diabetes can seem complicated. It is important to learn as much as possible about diabetes so you can make good decisions about taking care of yourself. You need decide what will work for you. Your plan will probably include taking medication and making small changes in the way you eat and move during the day. These can make a big difference. Your doctor, pharmacist and other members of your health care team are key people use as you get started.
What is diabetes?
Most people have heard about diabetes. But what exactly is diabetes? Diabetes happens when glucose or the sugar that we get from the foods that we eat, builds up in the blood stream to an unhealthy range. The build-up is caused when glucose can’t get inside the cells of the body. Our cells need glucose for energy. Insulin is a hormone that is made by the body. In normal times, it lets the glucose get inside the cells. In diabetes, the body either does not make enough (or any) insulin or has trouble using the insulin the body does make.
Many people think that high blood sugar only happens if a person eats or drinks too many foods and beverages that have extra sugar added. This is not true. Many foods, including healthy options like milk, fruit, vegetables and whole grains are broken down into glucose. The glucose from those foods can build up and cause high blood glucose when there is a problem with insulin. Long-term, high blood sugar can cause serious health problems.2
There are two main types of diabetes. They are called type 1 or type 2. Type 1 is the less common type of diabetes. It usually starts during childhood and can run in families. In type 1 diabetes the body stops making insulin completely. Type 2 diabetes is much more common and usually happens in adults. Type 2 diabetes can happen in younger people too, especially if the person is overweight or obese. In this type of diabetes, the body usually can still make some insulin. The amount may be too small, or the cells may have trouble using it. With diabetes, other serious health problems can happen if the blood glucose is not controlled. High blood glucose can damage many parts of the body, including the eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. It is very important to work with your entire health care team on a plan to keep the glucose in the blood as normal as possible. This will help avoid damage to the other parts of the body.
Take control of your diabetes
Taking any medications that your doctor or other provider recommends correctly is very important. Work with your pharmacist to know exactly how to take the medications and about any monitoring you should do. You should also know how to handle any side effects that can happen. Some medications for diabetes need to be injected with a syringe or a pen device. Your pharmacist can help you learn how to do this safely and recommend things you can do that can make it easier.
Medications are only part of the plan for diabetes. Checking your blood sugar and making small changes to the way you eat and live can have a big effect on your blood glucose and overall health.
Some simple changes to think about are listed below:
Build a diabetes team you trust
When your doctor tells you that you have diabetes it can feel overwhelming. It is important to know that you are not alone. Surround yourself with a team you trust. Start with your friends and family who can help keep you motivated and find new ways to eat well and move more with you. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider to make sure the treatment plan is something you can do. If needed ask for referrals to Registered Dietitians, diabetes care and education specialists and other providers including dentists, podiatrists and eye doctors who can keep you healthy with your diabetes.
Be sure to also include your Health Mart pharmacist as a part of your team. Your pharmacist can help you get the most from your medications and be sure that you are taking them exactly as directed. Your pharmacist can also help answer questions and recommend products and services to stay healthy. Many pharmacists offer diabetes education or can refer you to support groups or classes to keep you on track.
When you live with diabetes, be sure to surround yourself with everything you need. That includes the medications and supplies and a team that is focused on you being successful.
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Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
- American Diabetes Association “Newly Diagnosed” https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/newly-diagnosed Last accessed 10/13/20.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases “What is Diabetes?” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7504 Last accessed 10/13/20
- American Diabetes Association “ Healthy Food Choices Made Easy” https://diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy Last accessed 10/23/20.
- US Department of Agriculture “ChooseMyPlate” https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ Last accessed 10/23/20.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Smoking and Diabetes” https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html Last accessed 10/23/20.
- American Diabetes Association “ Lose Weight for good” https://www.diabetes.org/fitness/weight-loss Last accessed 10/23/20.
- American Diabetes Association. The Diabetes Advisor “ Diabetes and Stress” https://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/media/Emotions_-_Stress.pdf Last accessed 10/23/20.