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Part 1 of 4 Steps to Managing Diabetes for Life

via the National Diabetes Education Program

Step 1: Learn about diabetes.

What is diabetes?  There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – Your body does not make insulin. This is a problem because you need insulin to take the sugar (glucose) from the foods you eat and turn it into energy for your body. You need to take insulin every day to live.
  • Type 2 diabetes – Your body does not make or use insulin well. You may need to take pills or insulin to help control your diabetes. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
  • Gestational (jest-TAY-shun-al) diabetes – Some women get this kind of diabetes when they are pregnant. Most of the time, it goes away after the baby is born. But even if it goes away, these women and their children have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life.

You are the most important member of your health care team.

You are the one who manages your diabetes day by day. Talk to your doctor about how you can best care for your diabetes to stay healthy. Some others who can help are:

  • dentist
  • diabetes doctor
  • diabetes educator
  • dietitian
  • eye doctor
  • foot doctor
  • friends and family
  • mental health counselor
  • nurse
  • nurse practitioner
  • pharmacist
  • social worker

How to learn more about diabetes.

  • Take classes to learn more about living with diabetes. To find a class, check with your health care team, hospital, or area health clinic. You can also search online.
  • Join a support group — in-person or online — to get peer support with managing your diabetes.
  • Read about diabetes online. Go to www.YourDiabetesInfo.org.

Take diabetes seriously.

You may have heard people say they have “a touch of diabetes” or that their “sugar is a little high.” These words suggest that diabetes is not a serious disease. That is not correct. Diabetes is serious, but you can learn to manage it.

People with diabetes need to make healthy food choices, stay at a healthy weight, move more every day, and take their medicine even when they feel good. It’s a lot to do. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!

Why take care of your diabetes?

Taking care of yourself and your diabetes can help you feel good today and in the future. When your blood sugar (glucose) is close to normal, you are likely to:

  • have more energy
  • be less tired and thirsty
  • need to pass urine less often
  • heal better
  • have fewer skin or bladder infections

You will also have less chance of having health problems caused by diabetes such as:

  • heart attack or stroke
  • eye problems that can lead to trouble seeing or going blind
  • pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands and feet, also called nerve damage
  • kidney problems that can cause your kidneys to stop working
  • teeth and gum problems

Actions you can take

  • Ask your health care team what type of diabetes you have.
  • Learn why diabetes is serious.
  • Learn how caring for your diabetes helps you feel better today and in the future.

Go to Part 2 of 4 Steps to Managing Diabetes for Life.