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Are You in Diabetes Denial?

Denying you have type 2 diabetes won't make it go away. Here's how to accept your diagnosis, manage your disease, and get on with your life.

The Risk of Denial

Whatever the reason, denying you have type 2 diabetes is a bad idea, especially if you've been living with the disease and ignoring the symptoms.

"Many people are walking around without acknowledging they even have the disease," says Rubin. "It may be seven or eight years before they're diagnosed only because they're having serious complications."

About a third of people with type 2 diabetes are diagnosed when they show complications like eye disease and kidney problems, explains Rubin, which typically don't appear until a person has been living with the disease untreated for years. In some cases, the serious complication that can indicate your health is in trouble can be the state of your heart.

"Almost three-quarters of all people with diabetes die of heart attack or stroke," says Rubin. "So not only do you need to get your diabetes under control, you need to control your blood pressure and cholesterol as well to manage any risk for cardiovascular disease."

How can you move from diabetes denial to a healthier way of life? Acceptance is the first step in the right direction.

Tackling Type 2 Diabetes

"Once you recognize that you have a problem that can be managed, you're off to a good start," says Breen.

What's next? Well, if you've been living with symptoms that you suspect might be linked to diabetes, your next stop should be the office of your health care provider.

"Because the symptoms of diabetes can go unnoticed -- or ignored -- it's important that people have regular checkups, which include measuring blood sugar levels to screen for diabetes," says Rubin.

Armed with the news that you have type 2 diabetes, it's time to start managing your health. Here are practical tips to getting over your fear of your newly diagnosed disease:

Make it a group effort. "Use your family for support when you're first diagnosed," says Rubin. "Help them understand what diabetes is about and what changes you need to make -- together -- so you can manage the disease."

Moderation is key. "Moderation in all things is one of the rules I live by," says White, who is living well with type 2 diabetes after 20 years. Instead of asking for a 16-ounce steak at dinner or a pound of macaroni and wolfing it down in 15 minutes, get a smaller portion and make it last at least a half-hour. Turn dinner into an experience, he suggests.

Treat yourself to a healthy snack. Instead of three huge meals throughout the day, which means peaks and valleys for blood sugar levels, White follows an easy and healthy schedule to keep steady all day long: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and then a light snack before bed. What's important when you're making food choices, he says, is to keep it lean and nutritious. Have a half a turkey sandwich on wheat bread for a snack in the afternoon, or an apple before bed.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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Normal
70-130
High
131+

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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