Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to produce or effectively use the hormone insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, with about 90-95% of people who have diabetes having this form of the disease.
Some people can manage diabetes with lifestyle changes alone, such as eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight and being more physically active. But you may also need to use oral medications or insulin to help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.
Why is it important to manage your diabetes?
Managing your blood sugar levels helps keep you healthier in many ways. Everyday benefits include increased energy, less fatigue, improved healing, lower risk of infection, reduced feelings of thirst and a decreased need to urinate. By managing your diabetes, you also lower your risk of these diabetes-related health complications:
- Heart attack
- Kidney damage
- Eye and vision problems
- Issues with teeth and gums
- Tingling, pain or numbness in your hands or feet
What can you do to manage your diabetes?
You are the most important member of your diabetes health care team. You are the one person who can take steps every day to improve or maintain your health. Here are 5 ways to stay healthier if you have diabetes:
- Learn about the type of diabetes you have (type 1 or type 2), how your actions affect your health and what you can do to manage your diabetes and improve your health.
- Schedule regular appointments with your primary care physician, eye doctor, podiatrist, dentist and other specialists so you are routinely checked for diabetes-related complications.
- Ask your health care team, family and friends for any help you need. You can also take classes or join a support group.
- In addition to monitoring your blood sugar, keep track of important health indicators such as your A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Follow a healthy diet, be physically active, don't smoke, get enough sleep, reduce stress and take medications as directed by your doctor to maintain your health.
You and your doctors can come up with a plan together to manage your diabetes, but it's up to you to follow that plan so you stay healthy. It's also important to report any changes in your health to your health care team.
FirstHealth's Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center offers counseling for individuals with specific medical needs as well as those who wish to maintain optimal health.