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Understanding diabetes and how to manage it

October 31, 2023
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Diabetes is an all too common and serious condition. Diabetes is a group of diseases that cause the level of blood sugar (glucose) to rise. The body needs glucose for energy. But too much sugar in the blood can lead to many serious health problems.

In the United States, 37 million people have diabetes. That is the estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also reports another 96 million Americans may have “prediabetes.” Prediabetes means the glucose level is high, but not enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

The most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes: Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age and can develop in a few weeks or months and can be severe. Individuals with type 1 diabetes may experience nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.

Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes symptoms can take several years to develop and can occur at any age. Some people don’t notice any symptoms at all. Symptoms include:

Risk factors of diabetes

There are many factors associated with an increased risk of diabetes. These are some of the most common ones:


Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms associated with prediabetes. It’s important to have your blood sugar levels tested regularly, especially if you have any of the following risk factors for prediabetes:

Prediabetes can be reversed. Eating right and exercise can help you lower your blood sugar levels and reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Treating diabetes

The first step in treating type 2 diabetes focuses on lifestyle change. Often, individuals with type 2 diabetes can manage blood sugar levels by:

Sometimes lifestyle changes are not enough. Then your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage your diabetes. Insulin hormone replacement is used for type 1 and some advanced cases of type 2 diabetes.

The dangers of diabetes

Diabetes is a very serious condition with lifelong health consequences, especially if not managed well. It is a leading cause of death and can have significant complications that affect all organs. It is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.

It can also affect the:

If left untreated, diabetes can cause a metabolic disturbance such as diabetic ketoacidosis. That is a serious condition that requires a hospital admission. Other severe, long-term consequences include:

Important Screenings for People with Diabetes


Dilated Eye Exam

Blood Pressure

Kidney Function Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR)

Managing diabetes

To manage diabetes, diet and exercise are key. That’s because they both help you maintain a target range for your blood sugar or reverse a spike in your glucose level. These tips can help those with diabetes control their condition:

Limit the following foods:

Include the following foods:

Be sure you are eating regular, balanced meals. That will help to keep your blood sugar levels steady.

Exercise is vital:

Adding exercise into your daily routine can lower your blood sugar levels. It can also help lower blood pressure and weight loss. If you’re new to exercise, be sure to start slowly and build up. Walking is a great way to start, and you can gradually increase your speed and distance. It’s also helpful for those with diabetes to include some strength training too. The American Diabetes Association offers more tips on how to exercise safely with diabetes.

Check out this post for more information on how to manage diabetes.

If you have any risk factors or are experiencing signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor.

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