If you've just been diagnosed with diabetes, you're not alone. Nearly 26 million Americans are living with diabetes. In 2010, nearly 2 million new diagnoses were made in Americans ages 20 and up.
Though managing diabetes requires effort, you can still enjoy doing the things you love while taking care of yourself. Here are six strategies that you can use to manage your diabetes and live a long and active life.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our January-February 2011 issue, we asked WebMD's diabetes expert, Michael Dansinger, MD, to answer a question about the link between prediabetes and diabetes.
Q: At my last checkup, my doctor told me I have prediabetes. Does that mean I'll ultimately develop diabetes?
A: Almost everyone who develops type 2 diabetes develops prediabetes first. But not everyone who has prediabetes...
Diabetes is serious. If left unmanaged it can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, even death. So, your first step after being diagnosed is to ask questions and learn as much as you can about:
How diabetes is treated
How diabetes is managed day to day
How diabetes can affect your diet, lifestyle, and body
Talk to your health care providers -- doctors, nurses, endocrinologists, dietitians -- and get answers to the questions that concern you most.
Talk to your friends and family who may be living with diabetes. Join a support group, get online, and start reading. The more you know about diabetes, the more control you’ll have.
2. Get Care for Your Diabetes
Your health care team or doctor is your primary 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. There is no “diabetes diet” to follow. But if you have diabetes, consult a dietitian to learn how food affects your blood sugar. Talk with your doctor about weight loss if you're overweight and how to safely incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Monitoring your diabetes. Your health care team can teach you how to monitor your blood sugar and show you what to do to avoid highs and lows.
3. Track Your Diabetes ABCs
Diabetes raises your risk for conditions that may affect your eyes, nerves, heart, teeth, and more. This is why you want to keep track of your diabetes ABCs.
A1c. This test measures your average blood sugar over the last two or three months. Your aim is to keep your A1c around 7 without risking low blood sugar. Your doctor can help.
Blood pressure. If you have diabetes, you are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to other serious conditions. To be certain that your blood pressure is at a healthy rate, have it checked two to four times a year.
Cholesterol. Having diabetes can also put you at risk for high cholesterol -- a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Be sure to have your cholesterol checked (fasting lipid profile) at least once every year.
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and 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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