Understanding A Diabetes Diagnosis

Getting diagnosed with diabetes can be life-changing. Patients will undoubtedly have questions about how best to manage the disease. A diabetes educator can help explain the basics and answer more detailed questions about potential health complications, ideal blood sugar levels, diet, and exercise.


Diabetes introduction

Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body struggles to regulate blood sugar levels. This can happen because the pancreas either doesn't produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps usher sugar into cells for energy, or cells become resistant to insulin's effects. The result is high blood sugar, which over time can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. There's no cure for diabetes, but managing the disease through diet, exercise, and medication can significantly improve health and well-being.

Education is essential

To properly manage diabetes, a team approach is ideal. A diabetes educator is an essential member of the team who can help patients with the condition. Often coming from a nursing background, diabetes educators receive specialized training and must pass an exam to become certified. Patients will typically be referred to a diabetes educator when first diagnosed. To make the most of this appointment, consider asking the following 3 questions.

1. What are the potential complications?

Having a good understanding of the possible complications of a diabetes diagnosis is important. With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, people are at higher risk of kidney disease, eye damage, nerve damage, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure (BP), and dementia. Understanding the risk of such serious complications can help patients proactively manage the condition with a healthier lifestyle and medication.

2. When should I check my blood sugar?

The frequency of blood sugar checks for diabetics can vary depending on the individual. While some may only need checks once or twice a day, others may require monitoring several times. Common times to check include before meals, at bedtime, and sometimes after meals or during exercise. This is crucial to discuss a personalized plan with a doctor to determine the optimal testing schedule for effectively managing diabetes.

3. Do I have to change my diet or workout?

Physical activity is essential to managing diabetes, as movement can help regulate blood sugar. Approximately 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week is suggested. Along with working out, a diabetes-friendly diet can help keep blood sugar levels in check and lower the risk of health complications. Focus on controlling portion size, avoiding added sugar, limiting carbohydrates, and choosing healthy fats. A diabetes educator can help patients come up with a meal plan.

Get ahead of diabetes

Education is vital to managing any form of diabetes. A diabetes educator is a trained professional with extensive knowledge about this condition. Before the first appointment, write down any questions that come to mind. Understanding the potential complications, making sense of blood sugar readings, and knowing whether diet and exercise routines need to change can make a big difference for people with diabetes.