When it comes to diabetes, knowledge is power. With education and support, you can develop the skill you need to lead an active fulfilling life. Whether you are newly diagnosed or would like refresher information on managing diabetes, we can help you.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes high blood glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. There are three possible reasons people develop diabetes:
- The body doesn't make insulin
- The body doesn't make enough insulin (insulin deficiency)
- The body doesn't use the insulin properly (insulin resistance)
Diabetes cannot be cured but it can be controlled. Through proper eating, exercise and medication you can live a longer, healthier life. About 20.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, many of whom are unaware they have this condition.
What makes blood glucose high?
Your body breaks carbohydrates found in food into glucose, then your blood carries the glucose to your cells. Glucose needs insulin to get into the cells. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. If your body doesn't make enough insulin or your body doesn't use it properly, the glucose cannot get into the cells. It stays in the blood making your blood glucose level high and causing you to have diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
People with this type of diabetes must take insulin because their bodies produce little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but is most commonly seen in younger people and was once called juvenile diabetes. About five to 10 percent of all people with diabetes are in this group.
People with this type of diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin properly in the body. Type 2 diabetes may be controlled with proper eating and exercise. Oral medications also are often used to control Type 2 diabetes. Ninety to 99 percent of all people with diabetes are in this group.
This type of diabetes begins or is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Blood glucose levels usually return to normal after childbirth. Women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
For some people, high blood glucose levels may be caused by medications.
Why do I need to take care of my diabetes?
Diabetes can lead to serious problems in your eyes, kidneys, nerves, gums and teeth and blood vessels. The risk of these complications can be greatly reduced by maintaining blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
What kind of care do I need?
People with diabetes should:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle, with special focus on exercise, weight and nutrition.
- Work with healthcare providers to make changes to their treatment plan when needed.
- See a doctor, diabetes educator and/or registered dietitian on a regular basis.
- Get support from family, friends and coworkers.
How should I treat my high blood glucose levels?
The number one goal of diabetes treatment is to control high blood glucose levels. To do this:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get regular physical activity
- Take medicine for your diabetes if your doctor tells you to
- Test your blood glucose
How do I get started?
We provide many educational programs. Special programs are available for the newly diagnosed to those who need to focus on specific areas such as lifestyle changes, nutrition, carbohydrate counting, insulin pump use and gestational diabetes.
There is Hope
Studies show that proper diabetes control reduces the risk of blindness and kidney failure by 25 to 75 percent. Based on these studies, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that most people with diabetes maintain good blood glucose control. Good control is defined as a plan of treatment that results in an average blood glucose level (i.e., Hemoglobin A1C ) of less than 6.5 percent.
With education and motivation you can control your diabetes and lead an active and fulfilling life.