According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), in 2012, 29.1 million people had diabetes, and 8.1 million of them didn’t even know they had it. Managing you and your family’s diabetes can be a challenge.
Sometimes, you don’t realize the reach the disease can have on your health and your lives.
- These visual guides can help you understand the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Your diabetes can affect your feet, eyes, and mouth. These guides tell you how diabetes affects them and ways to prevent problems.
- Controlling your blood sugar through an insulin-based treatment plan can be tricky, but these tips can help.
- Your blood sugar can also swing for reasons other than what you eat, so awareness is key.
- When you’re first diagnosed, insulin injections can be a scary part of dealing with your diabetes. This guide can help walk you through the process.
- You can also check out the YouTube video playlist Diabetes Basics from the ADA to learn more about how diabetes works and ways to protect yourself.
Your Family’s Diabetes
Of the 9.3% of the U.S. population who has diabetes, about 208,000 people are under age 20. And when you’re still growing up, the age difference can change the affects, both physically and emotionally.
The ADA’s page For Parents and Kids is a great place to start as you explore your child’s diabetes. Be Healthy Today; Be Healthy for Life is also an in-depth resource for kids and their families about living with type 2 diabetes.
The National Diabetes Education Program also has these PDFs of helpful info and tips written specifically for teens and their needs:
- What Is Diabetes?
- Stay at a Healthy Weight
- Make Healthy Food Choices
- Dealing With the Ups and Downs of Diabetes
The ADA also has a page, Everyday Life, that helps you find resources to help your kids live with diabetes through all the stages and events of life. Topics include leaving them with babysitters, telling others, playing sports, and even parties, dating, and driving.
Their YouTube channel also has a playlist of videos to help you make sure your kids are Safe at School.
For additional diabetes resources and ways we can help, join our Disease Management program.
There isn’t a cure for diabetes, but it is very treatable. Treating diabetes depends on which type of diabetes you have.
Type 1 Diabetes
Because those with type 1 diabetes can’t produce enough of their own insulin, they must treat their diabetes with insulin injections.
Type 2 Diabetes
For many, treatment for type 2 diabetes focuses on diet and exercise. If blood sugar levels stay high, oral medications can help your body better produce insulin.
In some cases, insulin injections are used.
For those who who are at risk of TOFI type 2 diabetes, it’s important to:
- Exercise, which is the only way to shed fat on the abdominal organs.
- Lower stress, which can temporarily raise your blood sugar.
- Diet smart by avoiding “diet foods” that are actually loaded with sugar, like low-fat salad dressings and vitamin drinks.
Treatment for gestational diabetes needs to happen quickly to protect you and your baby.
Treatment tries to keep your blood sugar levels at the same levels as healthy pregnant women’s through a combination of these:
- Specialized meal plans
- Regular, scheduled physical activity
- Daily blood sugar testing
- Insulin injections
It’s important to work with your doctor to make a treatment plan in all cases, but especially with gestational diabetes where personal changes are important for protecting your baby.
The A1c test measures your average blood sugar level over 2-3 months. Your doctor will generally order it every 3-6 months depending on which type of diabetes you have to keep an eye on how your treatment is working.
For most adults, the American Diabetes Association’s suggests your A1c be under 7%, but your doctor will help you decide what’s best for you. Studies show that people with diabetes keep normal A1c levels live five years longer, on average.
Checking your blood sugar with your personal meter helps you manage your treatment on a day-to-day basis. It gives you info right away to help you make decisions about taking your insulin, when to exercise, and tell you if you’re on track.
Keeping normal blood sugar levels reduces the risk of high cholesterol, and controlling your cholesterol can lower heart complications by 50%.
These two tests work together to tell you how your diabetes management is going. This chart shows what an A1c level translates to in blood sugar levels:
A1c Average Blood Sugar (mg/dl)
6% / 126
7% / 154
8% / 183
10% / 240
11% / 269
12% / 298
The biggest challenge to people who are treating diabetes with insulin injections is balancing exactly how much insulin you need to take, which can vary based on:
- Current emotions
- General health
Not balancing these factors and your insulin can result in hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is when you eat too little food, take too much insulin or diabetes meds, or get extra exercise, which causes your blood sugar levels to be too low.
Hyperglycemia is when you eat too much food, don’t take enough insulin, or are stressed or sick, and then your blood sugar levels are too high.
The best way to know if your blood sugar is high or low is to test your levels. But it’s also good to know the warning signs:
- Trouble paying attention
- Tingling mouth
- Pale face
- Passing out
- Going to the bathroom a lot
- Blurry vision
- Hungry, even when you’ve eaten.
When your blood sugar level is too low, you can:
- Eat or drink something with 15 grams of carbs:
- Try 3 glucose tablets, 4 ounces of apple or orange juice, 4 ounces regular soda, 1 tablespoon cake frosting or three Jolly Ranchers.
- Wait 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose level again.
- If your blood glucose is still too low, eat another 15 grams of carbs. Wait another 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose again. You may want to keep eating until you feel better, but it’s very important to wait the full 15 minutes.
If you or your care team feel your signs are serious, inject glucagon which is the opposite of insulin—it raises your blood glucose level.
If your blood sugar is high, it’s important to remember that one high blood sugar reading isn’t a big deal, it happens to everyone from time to time. But if you keep running high day after day, talk to your doctor.
No matter what, it’s important to talk to your doctor and care team about the best way to manage your diabetes and how to handle these situations.