News & Events
We're sharing resources and information to help you manage your diabetes.
- Today's Diabetes Hits Different - ADA Campaign
- It Takes a Team - NIH Campaign
- Division of Diabetes - CDC
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your body doesn’t make or use the hormone insulin properly. It causes too much blood glucose (sugar) to build up in the blood. There are 2 main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce any insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin as it should. In the past, doctors thought only adults were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, an increasing number of children in the United States are now being diagnosed with the disease. Doctors think this increase is mostly because more children are overweight or obese and are less physically active.
Symptoms vary from person to person. The early stages of diabetes have very few symptoms. You may not know you have the disease. But damage may already be happening to your eyes, your kidneys, and your cardiovascular system. Common symptoms include:
- Extreme hunger.
- Extreme thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Fatigue or drowsiness.
- Blurry vision.
- Slow-healing wounds, sores, or bruises.
- Dry, itchy skin.
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
- Frequent or recurring skin, gum, bladder, or vaginal yeast infections.
People who have diabetes are more likely to get heart disease. When you have diabetes, your blood sugar level is often much higher than it should be. Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage to many parts of the body, including blood vessels. Some lifestyle habits may also raise the risk of heart disease. Diabetes, being overweight, high blood pressure, and heart disease are related. But there are things you can do to reduce the risks of all four conditions. Diet and exercise are good ways to control your blood sugar level, lower your blood pressure, and cut your risk of getting heart disease.
The higher your blood sugar, the higher your risk for developing heart disease. This means if your blood sugar is left uncontrolled, it can really damage your heart. Other factors can increase your risk even more, including smoking or being overweight. Having these risk factors likely means you’ll develop heart problems sooner. And your heart problems will be more severe. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your blood sugar. Ask the doctor to recommend an exercise program for you. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietician.
Questions for Your Doctor:
- Do I have risk factors that increase my likelihood for developing heart disease?
- If I have type 2 diabetes, can I manage it with diet and exercise alone?
- If I take medicine to control my blood sugar, do I really need to diet and exercise?
- Should I also see a cardiologist if I have diabetes?
People who have diabetes have too much sugar in their blood. Managing diabetes means managing your blood sugar level. What you eat is closely connected to the amount of sugar in your blood. The right food choices will help you control your blood sugar level.
There isn’t one specific “diabetes diet.” Your doctor can work with you to design a meal plan. A meal plan is a guide that tells you what kinds of food to eat at meals and for snacks. The plan also tells you how much food to have. For most people who have diabetes (and those without, too), a healthy diet consists of:
- 40% to 60% of calories from carbohydrates
- 20% calories from protein
- 30% or fewer calories from fat
Your diet should also be low in cholesterol, low in salt, and low in added sugar.
When to See a Doctor:
If you are unable to control your blood sugar through diet and exercise, talk to your doctor. It may mean that you need medication to help in your diabetes management. Some signs of uncontrolled high blood sugar include:
- Blurry vision
- Unquenchable thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dizziness or being light-headed
- You are more emotional than normal for no obvious reasons
Exercise can make a real difference for people who have diabetes. Exercise can help control your weight and lower your blood sugar level. It also lowers your risk of heart disease. Heart disease is a condition that is common in people who have diabetes. Exercise can also help you feel better about yourself and improve your overall health. Talk to your doctor about what kind of exercise is right for you. The type of exercise you can do will mainly depend on whether you have any other health problems.
No matter what kind of exercise you do, you should warm up before you start and cool down when you’re done. To warm up, spend 5 to 10 minutes doing a low-intensity exercise such as walking. Then gently stretch for another 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat these steps after exercising to cool down. When you start an exercise program, go slowly. Gradually increase the intensity and length of your workout as you get more fit. Talk to your doctor for specific advice.
When to See a Doctor
Your blood sugar may be normal when you begin exercising but quickly drop during your workout. Be sensitive to this. If you have any of these symptoms, stop exercising:
- A change in your heartbeat
- If you feel shaky or anxious
- If you suddenly begin to sweat more than normal