Two years ago, when Jennifer Auyer's father died at age 64 from complications related to type 2 diabetes, she faced a turning point in her own struggle with the disease.
Her father's diabetes had led to heart disease, a quadruple bypass, a foot amputation, and vision problems, among other serious health troubles. "It was a really painful experience, for him and for all of us," says Auyer, 40, of Nashua, N.H.
Four years ago, she, too, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, shortly after giving birth...
Your first step after being diagnosed is to ask questions and learn as much as you can about:
What changes you can make to take care of yourself
What medical treatments you need
Start with your doctor. He or she may also put you in touch with diabetes educators, dietitians, or other specialists who can help you get answers to the questions that concern you most.
Also talk to your friends and family members who have diabetes. You could also join a support group and connect online with other people who have diabetes. Knowing more helps you make choices.
2. Get Care for Your Diabetes
Your doctor is your main resource for getting the care you need to live well with diabetes. Your treatment may include:
Medication. Whether or not you need medication to help treat your diabetes depends on your symptoms, complications, blood sugar, and other issues.
Lifestyle changes. These may include changing your diet, losing extra weight, and becoming more active.
Monitoring your blood sugar. Your doctor can teach you how to monitor your blood sugar and show you what to do to avoid highs and lows.
3. Track Your ABCs
Diabetes makes you more likely to get conditions that may affect your eyes, nerves, heart, teeth, and more. This is why you want to keep track of your diabetes ABCs.
"A" stands for A1c. This test measures your average blood sugar over the past 2 or 3 months. Your aim is to keep your A1c around 7 without risking low blood sugar. Your doctor can help.
"B" stands for blood pressure. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to get high blood pressure, which can lead to other serious conditions. Get your blood pressure checked two to four times a year.
"C" stands for cholesterol. Having diabetes can also put you at risk for high cholesterol, which makes heart disease and stroke more likely. Get your cholesterol checked at least once every year.
4. Take Steps to Manage Your Diabetes
Once you know more about living with diabetes, you're ready to put that knowledge into practice. A healthy lifestyle with diabetes includes:
Seeing your doctor two to four times a year
Eating a balanced diet
Getting 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week
Reaching and keeping a healthy weight
Seeing your dentist at least twice a year
Getting eye and foot exams every year
5. Stop Diabetes Complications Before They Start
You can help prevent complications by controlling your diabetes with diet, medication, exercise, and regular checkups.