Take Charge of Your Diabetes

Journal Staff Report | 11/11/2013, 7:58 a.m.
In the United States, 26 million are living with diabetes and 79 million more have prediabetes. Now is the time ...

In the United States, 26 million are living with diabetes and 79 million more have prediabetes. Now is the time to Take Charge of your diabetes.

Unless we make changes in how we live and eat, forty years from now we may have two or three times as many people with diabetes as we do now. That means somewhere between one out of three and one out of five adults would have diabetes. Right now, about one out of nine adults has diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious disease that affects almost every part of your body and can shorten your life. Some complications you can get because of diabetes are kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, eye disease, and having to have a leg or foot amputated. If you already have diabetes, you can still do a lot to keep from getting complications from diabetes.

Here are some important steps you can take to control diabetes:

• Talk to your doctor about how to manage your blood sugar level, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels.

• Stop or don’t start smoking or using any kind of tobacco.

• Do what you can to keep from getting sick. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to get sick and you may get sicker than a person without diabetes. Also, when you’re sick, it’s hard to keep your blood sugar under control.

• Get a flu shot. A person with diabetes is more likely to get really sick or even die from pneumonia or the flu (influenza) than a person who doesn’t have diabetes. If you or someone in your family has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is very important to get a flu shot. Make sure you ask for the flu shot—not the nose spray, which doesn’t help as much. CDC recommends that every person six months old and older get a flu shot. Also, ask your doctor if you should get a pneumonia shot. The shot is not appropriate for everyone.

• Don’t ever use someone else’s insulin pen or any other device that draws blood. You can get a virus from the other person if you do.

• Stay at a weight that’s healthy for you.

• Make sure you are physically active. Physical activity can help you control your weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure, as well as raise your "good" cholesterol and lower your "bad" cholesterol.

• Do something like walking quickly, gardening, dancing, jogging, or jumping rope at least 150 minutes a week to get yourself moving.

• At least two days a week, also do other kinds of activity to make your muscles stronger.

Things to Do to Help Keep Yourself from Getting Type 2 Diabetes

If you have prediabetes, there’s good chance you will have type 2 diabetes within three to six years. A person with prediabetes has a blood sugar level that is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. CDC estimates that 79 million people in the United States—one out of three adults—has prediabetes.

There is hope, though. If you have prediabetes, research shows that you can slow down or keep from getting type 2 diabetes by losing weight and becoming active. For example, a person who weighs 200 pounds needs to lose about 10 to 14 pounds. (If you weigh more than that, you need to lose more weight. If you weigh less, you need to lose less weight.) You also need to become physically active for at least 150 minutes per week. Just doing these things can slow down or keep you from getting type 2 diabetes by nearly 60%.

--From the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention