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Diabetes-what is it and how do I control it?

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not making enough insulin or the insulin that is being made is not working correctly. If available and working, the insulin should be processing the food into energy. If not, glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood. A person can feel very tired, hungry, thirsty, have blurry vision and/or may urinate often.

No one knows what causes diabetes, but lifestyle, obesity, family history, ethnicity, and certain medications can be factors.

Diabetes, if uncontrolled, can cause some long term damage to the body, especially the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Gaining good control is important.

Proper medication, correct food intake for a healthy weight, regular exercise, tracking blood levels and education can help prevent complications.

Help yourself:

o Control your glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol

o Healthy eating –control calories especially from carbohydrates; reduce processed foods, avoid sweetened drinks and include fiber from whole grains and vegetables

o Exercise – helps keep muscle tone, may reduce the need for medications and helps lowers stress

o See your doctor on a regular basis

o Keep up with lab work-fasting blood glucose and a 3 month average blood glucose known as the Hemoglobin A1c (“A1c”) along with kidney function tests, cholesterol and blood pressure screening should be done.

o Make an appointment to see a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator to get a detail plan for managing your diabetes