Facebook

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes means that you have too much sugar in your blood. A main goal of treating diabetes is to keep your blood sugar controlled.

Sugar is your body’s main fuel. But, having too much sugar in your blood can be a problem

Your body’s main source of energy is glucose, a type of sugar. You get this sugar from

  • The food that you eat
  • The sugar that is made in your liver

Your body helps lower blood sugar by releasing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas makes. Your pancreas is a gland behind your stomach. Insulin helps move sugar from your blood into most of your body’s cells where sugar is used for energy.

If you have diabetes, your body does not

  • Make enough insulin and/or
  • Use insulin the right way

Both or either of these can cause you to have too much sugar in your blood.

Symptoms of diabetes may include

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Having to use the bathroom to urinate more often
  • Feeling hungry or eating more
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Blurred vision

How many people have diabetes?

In the United States, diabetes affects more than 29 million people.

Out of this number

  • 21 million people know that they have diabetes
  • 8 million people do not know that they have it

What are the serious complications of diabetes?

Diabetes may lead to

TIP

Diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition. Yet, you can learn to help manage it.

Diabetes and controlling your blood sugar

Now let’s look at some reasons why your blood sugar might rise or fall when you have diabetes.

Some things that can make your blood sugar go up include

  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Eating too much food
  • Having an illness or an infection
  • Taking certain medicines

Some things that can make your blood sugar go down include

  • Exercising or increased physical activity
  • Eating less than usual
  • Skipping a meal or snack
  • Taking certain medicines

Blood sugar targets for people with diabetes

Be sure to discuss your blood sugar targets with your health care team.

Keep your blood sugar levels in the target range that you discussed with your health care provider. It may help reduce the risk of long-term health problems caused by diabetes. Diet, exercise, certain medicines, and coping with stress can help control blood sugar levels.

TIP

Ask your health care provider when and how often you should check your blood sugar.

How do you control blood sugar?

A main goal of treating diabetes is to keep your blood sugar under control. It may help reduce the risk of developing other health problems.

You can help control your blood sugar levels by

TIP

It is important to test your blood sugar levels at home.

Blood sugar monitoring

Here are 2 ways to monitor blood sugar:

  1. Home blood sugar testing. This is a blood test you do yourself with a blood sugar meter each day. The meter measures your blood sugar at that moment.
  2. The A1C test. This is a blood test that shows your average blood sugar level over the past several months. The staff at the lab or the health care provider’s office usually does this test.

By using daily self-blood sugar monitoring and A1C levels, you may be able to get a more complete picture of your blood sugar control. That is because these tests measure blood sugar in different ways. The blood sugar meter helps monitor your daily blood sugar levels. The A1C test gives an average blood sugar level over a period of time. Therefore, it is important to routinely check your blood sugar at home and get the A1C test, as discussed with your health care provider.

TIP

Higher or lower A1C goals may be appropriate for some people. Your health care provider will set an A1C goal that is right for you.

Blood sugar highs and lows

People with diabetes may have high or low blood sugar at times. Both can be serious if untreated. So learn about high and low blood sugar.

What is high blood sugar?

High blood sugar is also called hyperglycemia [hy-per-gly-SEE-mee-uh]. High blood sugar can occur when you

High blood sugar may not cause any symptoms. Checking your blood sugar is the best way to know what your blood sugar is.

Common symptoms of high blood sugar include

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Having to urinate more often
  • Feeling hungry or eating more
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Blurred vision

What to do if you have high blood sugar

  • Regularly check your blood sugar according to your health care provider’s instructions.
  • If your blood sugar is too high, talk to your health care provider about what to do.

What is low blood sugar?

Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia (hy-po-gly-SEE-mee-uh).

Low blood sugar may not cause any symptoms. Checking your blood sugar is the best way to know what your blood sugar is.

Low blood sugar can occur when you

Ask your health care provider when and how often you should check your blood sugar.

Common symptoms of low blood sugar include

  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Hunger and nausea
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating, chills, or clamminess
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness

Symptoms may be mild at first. They may worsen quickly if you do not treat them. If you have these symptoms, test your blood sugar right away.

TIP

Diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition. Yet, you can learn to help manage it.

What to do if you have low blood sugar

  1. If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, or if you have any of the symptoms of low blood sugar, eat or drink 15 to 20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates. The items below are commonly used:
    • ½ cup of fruit juice or regular soda (not diet)
    • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup
    • 2 tablespoons of raisins
    • 1 cup of low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk
    • glucose tablets (follow package instructions)
  2. Wait 15 minutes. Then check your blood sugar again.
  3. If your blood sugar is still below 70 mg/dL, or if you do not feel better, repeat step 1 every 15 or 20 minutes until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above.
  4. If your next meal is 1 hour or more away, eat a snack once your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above.
  5. If you still do not feel better, or if your blood sugar stays below 70 mg/dL, call your health care provider right away.

Next, you’ll learn what you can do to help prevent high and low blood sugar.

TIP

Remember: Working with your health care team can help manage your diabetes!

Ways to help prevent high and low blood sugar levels

  • Space meals evenly throughout the day. Talk to your health care provider about a plan for healthy eating.
  • Check your blood sugar levels the way your health care team advises you. Keep a record and bring it with your meter to your health care provider. You should do this for future visits as well. Make sure to tell your health care provider if you have had high or low blood sugar levels.
  • Keep a supply of healthy snacks on hand.

Make sure to take steps to manage your diabetes and learn to spot low blood sugar so you can treat it quickly before it gets worse.

TIP

Ask your health care provider what else you need to do to keep your diabetes under control.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest