Adjusting to a diabetes diagnosis can be challenging. There is a lot of information to digest, and you may feel too overwhelmed to know where to begin. This guide will teach you how to live with diabetes and maintain your health.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which your blood sugar levels are not properly regulated. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body is unable to make insulin — the hormone responsible for clearing excess glucose from the blood. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that arises when your body becomes less sensitive to insulin. Although diabetes does not have a cure, it is possible to manage the condition with medications and lifestyle changes.
Understanding Your Numbers
Doctors typically diagnose diabetes after performing a blood test. A normal fasting blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). People with levels ranging from 100 to 125 mg/dL are considered to have “prediabetes,” which places individuals at higher risk for developing diabetes. Blood sugar levels higher than 126 mg/dL put you in the diabetes range.
Your doctor may also check your glycated hemoglobin (A1C) level. This is a blood test that indicates your average blood sugar level over the past few months. An A1C below 5.7 percent is normal. A1C in the range of 5.7 to 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes, while higher than 6.5 percent shows that you have diabetes.
Developing a Blood Sugar Monitoring Plan
In addition to the blood tests performed at your doctor’s office, you need to develop a blood sugar monitoring plan to understand your levels throughout the day. When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, the best way to do this is to test your blood sugar levels frequently. Testing often gives you a great understanding of your diabetes. Plus, you can sell any extra diabetic testing supplies for cash.
Test as soon as you wake up, before and after meals, and before and after performing strenuous activities. This will help you understand how a variety of factors affect your glycemic control throughout the day. Once you identify problematic times or behaviors, you can learn how to change your routine to prevent hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes.
Strategies to Maintain Healthy Glycemic Control
Medication: When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will make recommendations about the best diabetes medications for you. Your specific medication needs might change over the course of your life. As a result, it is important to track how well your medications are keeping your blood sugar levels steady. You should also let your doctor know if you have any unwanted side effects.
Diet: Watching what you eat is critical for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Aim for a diet high in vegetables, low-carbohydrate fruits, whole-grain foods and lean protein. If you’re unsure what dietary choices are healthiest for you, work with a nutritionist who specializes in diabetes to come up with a plan.
Exercise: Exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle when living with diabetes. Getting enough exercise has several advantages: First, numerous studies have shown that diabetics who exercise have better control of blood sugar levels. Exercise also helps you lose weight, which may make it easier to manage your diabetes. Finally, exercise is associated with benefits for your cardiovascular and circulatory systems, which can reduce your risk of diabetic complications. Aim to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days per week.
By monitoring blood sugar levels, establishing a healthy routine, and regularly seeing your doctor, life with diabetes can be manageable. Arm yourself with the above information as a strong foundation for proper diabetes care.