It’s Your Life. Treat Your Diabetes Well.
Journal Staff Report | 11/14/2016, 9 a.m.
November is National Diabetes Month. Make it your time to take charge of your type 1 or type 2 diabetes for a longer, healthier life.
Preventive care for people with diabetes—and for the risk factors that cause related health problems—has improved significantly over the past 20 years, and people are living longer and better with the disease. But living longer can mean having other health problems longer, too. Good management over a lifetime is the key, starting with the day you're told you have diabetes.
Get in the Know
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). With type 1 diabetes, your body can't make insulin, so you need to take insulin every day. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes; about 5% of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but 1 out of 4 don’t know they have it. Most people with diabetes—9 out of 10—have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. If you have any of these risk factors, ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future.
Risk factors include
• Being overweight.
• Being 45 years or older.
• Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes.
• Being physically active less than 3 times a week.
• Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds.
Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.
You've Been Diagnosed with Diabetes. Now What?
Learning how to take care of your type 2 diabetes shouldn't happen only when you're diagnosed; it should be a lifelong focus. And as you get older, your treatment may need to change. Managing diabetes from the beginning can mean fewer health problems later on.
It's a balancing act—food, activity, medicine, and blood sugar levels—but one you can master. Manage your diabetes throughout the day by
• Following a healthy eating plan, including eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and salt.
• Getting physically active—10 to 20 minutes a day is better than only an hour once a week.
• Taking diabetes medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
• Testing your blood sugar regularly to understand and track how food, activity, and medicine affect your blood sugar levels.
Know Your ABCs
Work with your doctor to manage your diabetes ABCs, and keep a record of your numbers. Results will help determine if your treatment plan is working and you're able to stay in your target range—for example, an A1C of 7% or less—or if adjustments need to be made. Staying on track will help lower your risk of additional health problems.