GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT DIABETES:
Cells of the body need glucose (sugar) for fuel. Insulin is the hormone in the body that lets glucose move from the blood into the cells. Diabetes is a chronic health condition where the body is not able to produce enough insulin, or does not respond well to its own insulin. Because the glucose in the blood cannot get into the cells, it builds up in the blood causing high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
If there is not enough insulin, or if the body stops responding to insulin, sugar builds up in the blood. That is what happens to people with diabetes.
There are 2 different types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the problem is that the body makes little or no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the problem is that:
- The body’s cells do not respond to insulin
- The body does not make enough insulin
- Or both
Your actual blood sugar level is a result of the balance between several factors. These include what kind of food you eat and how much of it you eat, how much exercise you get, and the amount of insulin present in your body. Eating too much of the wrong kinds of food or not taking diabetes medicine on time can cause high blood sugar. Infections can cause high blood sugar even if you are taking medicines correctly. Missing meals, not eating enough food, or taking too much diabetes medicine can lead to low blood sugar.
Untreated over long periods of time, diabetes can cause serious problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, nerve pain or loss of feeling in the legs and feet, and gangrene of the feet. With good treatment keeping your blood sugar under control, you can prevent or delay the complications of diabetes. Normal blood sugar levels are between 90-130 before a meal and not more than 180 two hours after a meal.
1) Follow your prescribed diabetic diet and take insulin or oral diabetic medicine exactly as ordered.
2) Monitor blood sugars as advised. Keep a log of your results. This will help your doctor adjust your medicines to keep your blood sugar under control.
3) Try to achieve your ideal weight. Proper diet and exercise can reduce or eliminate the need to take diabetes medicine.
4) Avoid tobacco smoking, which worsens the effect of diabetes on your circulation. The risk of a heart attack in a diabetic is 15 times more likely if you smoke.
5) Pay attention to good foot care. If you have lost feeling in your feet you may not notice an injury or infection. Check your feet and between your toes at least once a week.
6) Wear a Medic-Alert bracelet or carry a card in your wallet explaining that you are diabetic. In the event that you become very ill and are unable to give this information, it will help medical personnel provide proper care.
7) If you become ill with an infection (viral or bacterial), check your blood sugar often. If the blood sugar is above your usual range, and if you take insulin, use the “sliding scale” dose of regular (R) insulin dose your doctor gave you. Recheck your blood sugar in four hours. If you do not take insulin or if no “sliding scale” instructions were given, contact your doctor for further advice.
8) Always carry a source of high sugar food with you in case you get symptoms of low blood sugar again. At the first sign of low blood sugar, eat the sugar source to raise your blood sugar while you seek medical help. Examples of high sugar foods include:
Glucose tablets (found at most drug stores), non-diet cola drinks (Coke, Pepsi, Root Beer, etc.), milk chocolate candies, hard candies, orange juice or apple juice with added sugar.
Check your blood sugar 20 minutes after treating yourself. If it is still low, go to an emergency room.
9) If you are not able to eat due to illness, loss of appetite or vomiting, you MUST reduce your diabetes medicine. If you take oral diabetes medicine, stop your pills and contact your doctor. If you take insulin, contact your doctor to ask for a temporary adjustment of your dose. If there is a delay in reaching your doctor, reduce your daily insulin dose to ONE-HALF (½) of what you usually take. Monitor your blood sugar every 4-6 hours, until you are able to begin eating again normally.
FOLLOW UP with your doctor as advised . For more information, contact the American Diabetes Association. www.diabetes.org or (800-DIABETES). You can get a Medic-Alert bracelet from www.medicalert.org (800) 432-5378.
GET PROMPT MEDICAL ATTENTION if any of the following occur:
— HIGH BLOOD SUGAR: frequent urination, dizziness, drowsiness, thirst, headache, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, vision changes, fast breathing, confusion or loss of consciousness
— LOW BLOOD SUGAR: fatigue, headache, shakes, excess sweating, hunger, feeling anxious or restless, vision changes, drowsiness, weakness, confusion or loss of consciousness
— Chest pain or shortness of breath
— Dizziness or fainting
— Weakness of an arm or leg or one side of the face
— Trouble with speech or vision
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT DIET FOR DIABETICS:
Food is an important tool that you can use to control diabetes and stay healthy. Eating well-balanced meals in the correct amounts will help you control your blood glucose levels and prevent low blood sugar reactions. It will also help you reduce the health risks of diabetes. A registered dietitian (RD) will explain the diabetes diet and help you plan meals and snacks that are healthy to eat. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call the dietitian for advice.
GUIDELINES FOR SUCCESS:
- Consult with your doctor before you starting a diabetes diet or weight loss program. If you have not yet consulted a dietitian, ask your doctor for a referral.
- Select foods from the six food groups. Your dietitian will advise you on food choices within each group, serving sizes and how many servings you can have at each meal.
- Grains, beans and starchy vegetables
- Milk or Yogurt
- Fats, sweets and alcohol (only a small amount from this group)
- Monitor your blood sugar levels as requested by your doctor. Take any medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
- Learn to read nutrition labels and select appropriate portion sizes.
- Eat only the amount of food in your meal plan. Eat about the same amount of food at regular times each day. Do not skip meals. Eat meals 4 to 5 hours apart, with snacks in between.
- Limit alcohol. It raises blood sugar levels. Drink water or calorie-free diet drinks that use safe sweeteners.
- Eat less fat to help lower your risk of heart disease. Use nonfat or low-fat dairy products and lean meats. Avoid fried foods. Use cooking oils that are unsaturated.
- Talk to your nutritionist about safe sugar substitutes.
- Avoid added salt. It can contribute to high blood pressure, which can cause heart disease. People with diabetes already have a risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, cut down on your portion sizes. But do not skip meals. Exercise is an important part of any weight management program. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is right for you.
- For more information about the best diet plan for you, talk with a registered dietitian (RD). To obtain a referral to an RD in your area, contact your insurance.
What Is the A1C Test?
Using your meter helps you track your blood sugar every day. But you also need to know if your treatment plan is keeping you healthy over time. An A1C (glycated hemoglobin) test can help. This test measures your average blood sugar level over a few months. A higher A1C result means that you have a higher risk of developing complications.
The A1C test
The A1C is a blood test done by your healthcare provider. You will likely have an A1C test every 2 to 3 months.
Your Blood Glucose Goal
A1C has been shown as a percentage. But it can also be shown as a number representing the estimated Average Glucose (eAG). Unlike the A1C percentage, eAG is a number similar to the numbers listed on your daily glucose monitor. Both A1C and eAG measure the amount of glucose stuck to a protein called hemoglobin in red blood cells. Your healthcare provider will help you figure out what your ideal A1C or eAG should be. Your target number will depend on your age, general health, and other factors. If your current number is too high, your treatment plan may need changes, such as different medications.
Most people aim for an A1c lower than 7%. That’s an eAG less than 154 mg/dL.