Published: March 26, 2020
More than 30 million people in the United States are living with diabetes. Most have type 2 diabetes, caused when the body isn’t producing enough insulin, can’t use insulin properly, or both. Read on for some commonly asked questions about the condition.
What lifestyle changes will help control diabetes?
Talk to your doctor about the best meal plan for you. You may need to focus on high-nutrient, high-fiber foods and reduce foods containing sugars, like processed foods. Even fruits, which have naturally occurring sugars, may need to be balanced with insulin or other medications. Get 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five days a week, which helps lower blood sugar and keeps weight healthy.
Can type 2 diabetes be reversed?
There’s no cure for diabetes; however, you can make lifestyle changes that can put type 2 diabetes in remission so you no longer have symptoms or need medication. Adopt a low-calorie diet, as consuming excessive calories leads to extra fat in the pancreas, which stops insulin-producing cells from doing their job. You should also get more active and work with your doctor on an individualized diabetes management plan.
Why do people with diabetes need to take special care of their feet?
Over time, high blood glucose can damage nerves. More than half of people with diabetes have nerve damage in their feet, making it difficult to feel pain, so they might not notice an infected cut or sore until it’s serious. If you have diabetes, check your feet daily.
Besides blood sugar, what other health factors should be monitored?
Getting these important tests will help you manage your diabetes and overall health:
A1c (or HbA1c)
This nonfasting blood test reveals your average blood sugar level in recent months, signaling whether you should adjust your medications. Get one every three to six months.
People with diabetes are prone to hypertension, so get this test at least once a year.
Diabetes makes you more likely to develop heart disease. Have your LDL and HDL levels checked at least once a year.
Dilated eye exam
This test helps detect diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness. Visit mywha.org/DRE to learn about a reward from WHA for getting this annual test.
Protein in urine
Frequent high blood glucose levels can harm kidneys. This test helps detect kidney trouble, so get it once a year.
My loved one is living with diabetes. How can I help during a diabetes-related emergency?
If your loved one has a very dry mouth, fruity smelling breath, or has trouble breathing or starts vomiting, he or she may have high blood sugar that has gotten serious and needs immediate treatment. Get him or her to a doctor right away.
For more information, go to mywha.org/diabetes.