Answers to Common Diabetes Questions

Premier Physician Network doctors answer frequently asked questions about diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Dr. Gendler talks about what diabetes is. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot properly process food to use as energy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most food is turned into glucose for our bodies to use as energy, and the pancreas makes insulin to help that glucose – sugar – get into the cells of the body, according to the CDC.

Diabetes causes your body to either not make enough insulin or not be able to use its own insulin the right way, according to the CDC. This causes sugars from food and drinks to build up in the blood, which is dangerous to your health.

Health complications that can be caused by diabetes include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations, according to the CDC.

For more information about what diabetes is, talk with your doctor.

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What is pre-diabetes? If a person is diagnosed with this, does it mean it will develop into diabetes?

If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it means you have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Pre-diabetes does not always have clear symptoms. Oftentimes, people find out they have pre-diabetes because they are tested for diabetes, according to the ADA.

Once you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you should be checked for type 2 diabetes every year to two years, according to the ADA.

Just because you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes does not mean you will automatically develop type 2 diabetes, according to the ADA.

Some things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to the ADA, include:

  • Losing 7 percent of your body weight. If you weigh 200 pounds, this would only be 15 pounds.
  • Moderately exercising for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Exercise could include brisk walking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Diabetes Education Program has a “Just One Step” campaign, which helps guide users to make a plan toward a healthier lifestyle, according to the CDC. The site provides diet and exercise options that can help people lose weight to get healthier “one step at a time.”

Talk to your physician for more information about pre-diabetes.

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What is the difference between pre-diabetes and diabetes?

Dr. Zeidan discusses diabetes concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Being diagnosed with pre-diabetes means that the sugar – also known as glucose – levels in your blood are too high.

Pre-diabetes means that your cells have started having trouble using the glucose. Having more glucose stay in your blood can cause trouble with the way your heart and blood vessels work.

With pre-diabetes, your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

People diagnosed with pre-diabetes are likely to have a heart attack or stroke within 10 years, according to the FDA.

Without lifestyle changes – such as changing eating habits and physical activity – up to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Being diagnosed with diabetes means that your blood glucose levels are consistently too high above normal to allow your body to properly process sugars, according to the CDC.

Talk to your physician for more information about pre-diabetes and diabetes.

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What can individuals do to reduce their risk of developing diabetes?

Dr. Gendler explains how people can reduce their risk of developing diabetes. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

There are steps you can take to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle through changes to your diet, increasing your physical activity level and maintaining a healthy weight are three steps you can take in the right direction toward diabetes delay or prevention, according to the ADA.

Research has shown that even moderate exercise and small amounts of weight loss – about 7 percent – can help delay or prevent diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Being overweight is the leading risk factor among people who develop type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. Obesity can keep your body from making and using insulin correctly

The American Association of Retired Persons and the Harvard School of Public Health have these tips to help prevent diabetes:

  • Choose lean meats and limit red or processed meats
  • Eat breakfast daily
  • Manage our weight
  • Choose healthy fats and proteins
  • Eat a higher proportion of fruits and vegetables
  • Get at least six hours of sleep each night
  • Choose whole grain foods instead of highly processed grains
  • Limit refined carbs and sugary drinks
  • Eat less by eating slowly
  • Make exercise a priority
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat smaller portions

For more information about ways you can try to prevent diabetes, talk with your physician

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What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Zeidan discusses diabetes concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes – formerly called juvenile diabetes – is usually diagnosed in children, teens or young adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

With type 1 diabetes, cells in the pancreas stop making insulin because the body’s immune system attacked and destroyed them, according to the NIH.

Type 1 diabetes treatment includes:

  • Taking insulin injections
  • Making good food choices
  • Being physically active
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Controlling cholesterol
  • Possibly taking aspirin daily
  • Possibly taking another injectable medication

Type 2 diabetes – formerly called adult-onset diabetes – is the most common form of diabetes, according to the NIH.

This type of diabetes can develop at any age and usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition where fat, muscle and liver cells do not process insulin correctly. Over time, the pancreas cannot secrete enough insulin to manage meals.

Inactivity and being overweight increase the chances of someone developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes treatment includes:

  • Diabetes medicine
  • Eating healthy food
  • Being physically active
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Controlling cholesterol
  • Possibly taking aspirin daily

Talk to your physician for more information about the different types of diabetes.

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What warning signs should a patient with a risk of diabetes look for?

There are cues you can watch for that should be warning signs that you could be developing diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired frequently
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections that usual

It is important to remember that someone developing diabetes might have many, some or none of these symptoms, according to the CDC.

If you think you have symptoms of diabetes, talk to your physician about testing for diabetes and next steps to improve your health.

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What are some tips for maintaining proper diet and exercise through the holidays?

Sticking to a diet and exercise routine can be difficult for anyone during the holidays.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following tips to help keep from overeating and to steer toward healthy food choices during the holidays:

  • Eat a healthy snack before a party to avoid overeating
  • Choose smaller portions
  • Choose low-calorie drinks
  • Limit alcohol consumption to one drink for women and two for men (per day), always with a meal
  • Choose pieces of holiday meats that are not coated with a glaze or covered in gravy
  • Choose light side dishes and vegetables that are not covered in or mixed with a lot of butter or extra fats
  • Be aware of salty dishes
  • Pick fruit to fill the sweet spot of a dessert instead of pies and cakes

Some additional tips to eat healthy and remain active during the holidays include:

  • Plan ahead – find out what kind of food is going to be at the party, and plan accordingly for how that fits into your meal plan.
  • Bring a dish to share at holiday gatherings – since most holiday parties are served potluck, buffet-style, bring a healthy dish or dessert that is low on carbs and sugars.
  • Eat slowly – eating slowly helps your body feel full faster and helps with food digestion.
  • Stay active – after eating, play games with your family, go for a walk or start cleaning the kitchen instead of sitting in front of the T.V. and being tempted by leftovers.

The holidays are a busy time, but it is important to take time to schedule exercise. You can make time for exercise, even bit by bit, every day.

For example, add fitness into your holiday shopping by parking farther from the store or mall, doing an extra lap or two around the mall and carrying all your shopping bags. The extra walking – plus extra weight of the shopping bags – will help build exercise into any busy holiday schedule.

For more information about how to keep exercise and healthy eating a part of your holidays, talk with your doctor.

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What foods or super foods should people with diabetes focus on during holiday gatherings?

Dr. Gendler talks about foods and super foods people with diabetes should focus on during holiday gatherings. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Having diabetes does not mean you can’t still enjoy good food while celebrating at holiday gatherings.

According to the American Diabetes Association, some foods and super foods that are great to find, make and munch on at holiday gatherings include:

  • Beans – Beans are high in fiber and protein, making them a great choice. Try using them in a chili recipe to warm up guests on chilly winter days.
  • Citrus fruit – Grapefruit and oranges are in season in the winter, making them less expensive and more readily available. Grab some citrus fruit as a snack or add it to your breakfast routine to help you feel full while gaining fiber and vitamin C.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A and fiber and serve as a great alternative to regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes are already a staple of many families’ holiday meals – just skip or minimize the sugary toppings.
  • Whole grains – Instead of sticky buns for a holiday breakfast, try oatmeal with fruit added. Oatmeal is a great source of fiber, potassium and other nutrients.
  • Nuts – Want something crunchy to snack on at a holiday gathering? Reach for a handful of nuts instead of potato chips. Nuts provide magnesium and fiber, and some even contain omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Berries – Blueberries. Strawberries. Any berries. All berries are full of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, making them a great choice as a dessert option.

Talk to your physician for more ideas about good food choices during the holidays.

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What is a healthy glucose level, and why is it important to maintain?

Dr. Zeidan discusses diabetes concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a range of healthy glucose (blood sugar) levels for non-pregnant adults with diabetes.

Healthy glucose levels:

  • Before a meal – 70 to 130 mg/dl
  • After a meal – less than 180 mg/dl

Though the ADA recommends these ranges, every person with diabetes will have an individualized target range based on these factors:

  • Duration of diabetes
  • Age
  • Life expectancy
  • Comorbid conditions
  • Hypoglycemia unawareness
  • Other individual conditions

When glucose levels get too high or too low they had have bad – even life threatening – effects on a person, which is why it is important to monitor and maintain blood glucose as close to normal levels as possible, according to the ADA.

For more information about what blood glucose levels are right for you and the importance of keeping track of them, talk with your physician.

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What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes you can get only while you’re pregnant, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

The condition develops when the body can’t make and use all the insulin it needs during pregnancy. Without having enough insulin, sugar can’t leave the blood to be used as energy, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

That sugar in the blood builds up causing high levels, called hyperglycemia, according to the ADA.

As of 2014, about 9.2 percent of women develop gestational diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC).

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What is an insulin pump?

An insulin pump is a small computer that delivers insulin to the body through a small catheter, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

The pump works in two ways, according to the ADA:

  • by pumping a steady, continuous dose of insulin, called basal insulin
  • by pumping a surge dose of insulin – called bolus insulin – around mealtime at your direction

A small needle is used to insert the catheter through the skin into a fatty layer of your midsection and then taped into place so the pump device, which is about the size of a pager, can be worn, according to the ADA.

Using an insulin pump gives the body insulin in a way most similar to the pancreas, according to the ADA. For that reason, many people prefer a pump because it gives them better control of their blood sugar than injections.

Talk to your doctor for more information about insulin pumps.

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What are the different ways insulin can be delivered to a person’s body if they have diabetes?

There are two main ways to take insulin to help treat your diabetes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Off Site Icon (HHS).

One way is to use an insulin pump. This way, a needle is used to put a small catheter through the skin into a fatty layer of the midsection, according to HHS.

The amount of insulin is set to what you need, then the pump gives you insulin through the day and night, according to HHS. Or, you can use the pump to deliver insulin on demand around mealtime.

The other method is to take insulin shots. HHS states there are two types of shots:

  • a “pen” that is pre-filled with insulin lets you click to choose the amount you need to inject
  • a syringe with which you measure the amount you need to inject

There is also a type of inhaled insulin available, but there is not yet enough research to be sure it is effective, according to Premier HealthNet physicians.

Talk to your doctor for more information about the different ways of taking insulin when you have diabetes.

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What are long-term effects of pre-diabetes?

Being diagnosed with pre-diabetes indicates that means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be full-blown diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pre-diabetes can be combated with changes to diet and the addition of physical activity, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

If not managed, pre-diabetes can have a long-term effect of turning into diabetes – a more severe form of the disease.

Diabetes is chronic and is a disease that will need to be managed for the rest of your life.

Talk to your doctor for more information about your pre-diabetes and diabetes concerns.

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If glucose levels are off, what can someone do to get them back to a healthy level?

Dr. Zeidan discusses diabetes concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

If your glucose – blood sugar – levels are not within the healthy range you and your physician have discussed, there are some steps you can take to get the levels back on track.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the quickest way to raise low blood glucose is by eating sugar or simple carbohydrates.

To treat hypoglycemia – low blood glucose – you need foods with at least 15 to 20 grams of sugars or carbohydrates, according to the ADA.

Examples of these foods include:

  • A ½ cup of juice or regular soda
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • 5 saltine crackers
  • 4 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

According to the ADA, when your blood glucose levels are too high – called hyperglycemia – there are a few things you can do to help lower them.

Exercise can help lower blood glucose levels, according to the ADA. But if your level is above 240 mg/dl, exercise might make the levels go even higher.

Also, changing eating habits and talking with your physician or dietician about the best foods for you can help lower high blood glucose levels, according to the ADA.

Some people with diabetes cannot lower blood glucose levels enough on their own and need to take insulin injections to help them keep their blood glucose at manageable, safe levels, according to the ADA.

For more information about steps you can take to keep your blood glucose in the right range, talk with your doctor.

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Are there certain foods that people with or at risk of diabetes should avoid?

When you have diabetes, the types and amount of food you choose to eat makes a big difference to your blood glucose levels and ultimately how you feel and function day-to-day.

People with diabetes should eat fewer high-fat foods and limit foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Some of these types of foods include:

  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Fried foods
  • Whole milk
  • Sweets, such as cakes, candy, cookies and pies
  • Crackers
  • Salad dressings

The CDC recommends that people with diabetes should eat fewer high-sugar foods including:

  • Fruit-flavored drinks
  • Sodas
  • Sweetened tea and coffee

It is also recommended that you eat fewer foods that are high in salt, such as:

  • Pickles
  • Processed meats, such as hot dogs and bologna
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned and packaged soups

Talk to your physician for more information about foods that you should eat less of or avoid to best manage your diabetes.

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What is the difference between nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners?

Both nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners are added to food to enhance its flavor, but they are both very different types of additions to food, according to the U.S. Department of AgricultureOff Site Icon (USDA).

Nutritive sweeteners provide energy to the body by way of carbohydrates, according to the USDA. Some types of nutritive sweeteners are added to foods during processing or preparation to make food taste better or to help it last longer.

Some other kinds of nutritive sweeteners are naturally found in foods, according to the USDA. With these sweeteners – such as fructose found in fruit – the body gains not only the fructose but also the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are all also in the fruit.

Agave, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, sucrose, and table sugar are all examples of nutritive sweeteners, according to the USDA.

Nonnutritive sweeteners are alternatives to nutritive sweeteners that add little or no calories to your diet when they are used to sweeten foods and drinks, according to the USDA.

These sweeteners are sweeter than sugar and only need to be used in small amounts, according to the USDA.

The Food and Drug AdministrationOff Site Icon (FDA) has approved the following types of nonnutritive sweeteners:

  • acesulfame-K (branded as Sweet One)
  • aspartame (branded as NutraSweet and Equal)
  • neotame
  • saccharin (branded as Sweet’N Low)
  • sucralose (branded as Splenda)
  • stevia (branded as Truvia and PureVia)

Talk to your doctor for more information about nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners.

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What are artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are substitutes for sugar and sugar alcohols, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Artificial sweeteners are also known as sugar substitutes, noncaloric sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners.

These sweeteners, according to the NIH, are used to:

  • aid in blood sugar control
  • help with weight loss by adding sweetness to food and drinks without adding calories
  • prevent tooth decay

Talk to your doctor for more information about artificial sweeteners.

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What are the risks of using artificial sweeteners?

There is not conclusive research to prove either risks or benefits of artificial sweeteners, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site 
Icon (NIH).

There is no evidence that sugar substitutes approved for use in the United States cause cancer or other serious health issues, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP).

Artificial sweeteners might, however, make your cravings for sweets stronger, according to the NIH. Studies have shown that the very strong sweet taste artificial sweeteners might lead people to have a “sweet tooth.”

This could cause overeating and eating sugary sweets that you might have otherwise avoided, according to the NIH.

It is also possible that artificial sweeteners change gut microbes, which could have an effect on how the body metabolizes sugars, according to the NIH. While studies are being done, no research has proven this yet.

For more information about risks of artificial sweeteners, talk with your physician.

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Can artificial sweeteners cause weight gain?

While research continues to be done about whether artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain, there is currently no proof that this is the case, according to Premier HealthNet physicians.

Some studies have found a connection between artificial sweeteners and having a “sweet tooth,” according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site 
Icon (NIH). This could lead to overeating and craving sugary sweets.

However, more studies need to be done to determine the specific connection between artificial sweeteners and craving sweets, according to the NIH.

For more information about artificial sweeteners and weight gain, talk with your physician.

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How are diabetes and heart disease related?

Dr. Gendler discusses how diabetes and heart disease are related. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

People with diabetes have a higher risk of having a heart attack, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Having diabetes makes you more than twice as likely to have a heart attack.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people with diabetes have the same risk of having and dying from a heart attack as people who have already had a previous heart attack.

People with diabetes also tend to develop heart disease at an earlier age than people without diabetes, according to the NIH.

Having a family history of heart disease is something you can’t change, but if you have diabetes, the NIH recommends taking steps to reduce your other risk factors related to heart attacks. Those risk factors include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce extra weight around the waist
  • Strive to have normal cholesterol levels
  • Work to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension)

For more information about how diabetes and heart attacks are related, talk with your doctor.

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Does proper diabetes management reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease?

Managing your diabetes can also reduce your risk for developing heart disease, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Maintaining a healthy weight, losing some weight if you are overweight, making healthy diet choices and exercising routinely all are ways to help manage your diabetes and also can help reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the ADA.

People with diabetes need to keep three sets of health statistics in check to help lower their risk of heart disease, according to the ADA. Those are:

  • A1C
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol

Talk with your physician for more information about how good diabetes management can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

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What role does diabetes management play in a person’s ability to manage their heart disease?

Many of the same steps you would take to manage your diabetes can help in managing your heart disease.

People with type 2 diabetes often have other risk factors that also contribute to their risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Working to control these risk factors can have positive benefits for diabetes and heart disease management.

These risk factors include:

  • High cholesterol, including LDL, HDL and triglycerides
  • High blood sugar
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

People with diabetes and one or more of these risk factors are likely to also end up with heart disease, according to the AHA.

For more information about managing heard disease and diabetes, talk with your physician.

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What are some strategies people can implement to help manage diabetes?

Managing diabetes doesn’t have to be difficult. Arming yourself with strategies for managing diabetes can make living with the disease seem much less overwhelming, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

The NIH recommends the following steps to help manage diabetes:

  • Be educated about diabetes: Knowing about your type of diabetes, where you can go for support and how to care for your diabetes.
  • Know the ABC’s of diabetes: A stand for A1C. B stands for blood pressure. And C stands for cholesterol. Knowing your numbers for these three health statistics can help you make sure you’re meeting your goals of keeping your diabetes in check.
  • Learn how to live with diabetes: Living well with diabetes means eating the right, healthy food, being active, taking your diabetes medication, brushing your teeth, quitting smoking and keeping track of your blood pressure.
  • Have a routine check-up: Visiting your physician at least twice a year can help you find any problems early. At least once a year, you need to be sure to have a cholesterol test, flu shot, foot exam, dental exam, eye dilation, urine test and blood work done to make sure you’re diabetes is managed well.

Having the right skills to help yourself care for your diabetes can make small day-to-day upsets manageable and keep your care on track.

Talk with your physician about tips for managing your diabetes.

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Why is it difficult for some people with diabetes to stay consistent with their care?

Managing diabetes doesn’t have to be difficult if you break down what you need to do to care for yourself.

However, making the lifestyle changes that need to be made to help control your diabetes and improve the symptoms can seem overwhelming, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Making an ongoing change in lifestyle can be difficult for anyone, especially when it includes a lifetime of bad eating habits and adding or starting new exercise routines, according to the ADA.

Changing lifestyle behaviors is a learning experience, according to the ADA. You have to try things you think will work best for you and then adjust along the way if things don’t work.

Talk to your physician for more information about why it can be challenging to stay on track with diabetes care.

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What is the biggest obstacle in maintaining a healthy routine or wellness strategy for someone with diabetes?

Dr. Allen talks about the biggest obstacle when maintaining diabetes care. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

The biggest obstacle for people working to maintain a healthy routine for their diabetes care is making all the lifestyle changes that go along with it, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Making a shift in eating habits, adding to or starting an exercise routine, having a daily insulin injection, doing blood sugar checks and more all can be included in the changes people with diabetes need to make to stay as healthy as possible, according to the ADA.

Changing lifestyle behaviors is a learning experience, according to the ADA. You have to try things you think will work best for you and then adjust along the way if things don’t work.

Talk to your physician for more information about why it can be challenging to stay on track with diabetes care.

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How is exercise just as important as the use of medication for diabetes management? How much exercise should someone with diabetes get each week?

Dr. Allen talks about how exercise is just as important as medication for diabetes management. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Exercise is a vital part of managing your diabetes. Including physical activity in your routine can help, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA) to do the following:

  • Burn calories to help manage weight
  • Decrease risk of heart disease
  • Decrease risk of stroke
  • Improve balance
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Improve sleep
  • Increase energy
  • Keep joints flexible
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduce depression symptoms
  • Relieve stress
  • Strengthen bones
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Strengthen your heart

Being active makes your cells more sensitive to insulin, which makes it work more efficiently, according to the ADA.

Choosing to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week is what experts recommend for people to help manage their diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC). Biking, swimming, briskly walking, dancing and mowing the lawn are all example of moderate-intensity physical activity.

If you are new to adding exercise to your routine, talk with your doctor first about what a safe exercise plan for looks like for you, according to the CDC.

Talk to your doctor also for more information about how exercise can be just as important as medication in managing your diabetes.

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Why is eye health an ongoing screening for someone with diabetes, and how important is it?

Dr. Allen talks about the importance of eye health for someone with diabetes. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Diabetes can cause people with diabetes to have eye problems, which could even lead to blindness, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA). Most people, however, only have minor eye problems.

Having regular checkups is the best way to make sure your eye problems stay minor, and worsening eye problems can be caught right away, according to the ADA.

Having annual vision checks – sometimes more frequent ones if there is a concern – is extremely important for someone with diabetes because treating a problem early can be the solution for saving your eyesight, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

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What is the link between blood pressure, blood sugar and eye health?

Having problems with your eye health can be related to having high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels under control. People who do not control their blood sugar levels are four times more likely than people with close to normal levels to develop eye health problems, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Your vision can also become temporarily blurry if you have high blood sugar levels, according to the ADA.

High blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH). The higher your blood pressure is and the longer it has been high, the worse the damage to your eyes can be.

The other issues high blood pressure can cause to your eyes, according to the NIH, include:

  • Blocking the blood supply in the arteries that go to the retina
  • Blocking the veins that carry blood from the retina
  • Damaging eye nerves because of poor blood flow

Smoking adds another risk to damaging your eye health, so if you have diabetes and smoke, choosing to quit smoking would be the best option, according to the ADA.

For more information about how eye health is affected by blood pressure and blood sugar, talk with your doctor.

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What is diabetes burnout?

Diabetes burnout – also known as diabetes distress – is when negative emotions can overtake someone with diabetes who was previously dedicated to making the healthy lifestyle choices to manage their diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC) and the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Managing diabetes includes:

  • Checking your blood sugar
  • Eating well
  • Making time for physical activity
  • Staying on track with doctor’s appointments
  • Taking your medication
  • Tracking your blood sugar

These steps are all part of a lifestyle different from what most people lived before having diabetes, according to the CDC.

Whether you were sick, attended gatherings where you didn’t stick to your goals, stopped seeing results, or just got overwhelmed, diabetes burnout happens to most people at one point or another, according to the CDC.

For more about diabetes burnout, talk with your doctor.

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What are the warning signs of diabetes burnout in a loved one?

If a loved one has diabetes, it’s important to be able to recognize the warning signs of diabetes burnout so you can help them work toward getting back on track.

Some signs to look for, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC), include:

  • Avoiding physical activity
  • Not checking blood sugar
  • Not following dietary guidelines
  • Not taking medicine
  • Skipping doctor’s appointments

Someone with diabetes burnout might express feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, and annoyed by managing their diabetes, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Talk to your doctor for more information about symptoms of diabetes burnout.

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What are steps someone can take if they are experiencing diabetes burnout?

If you’re feeling the effects of diabetes burnout, don’t worry. There are some steps you can take to help get yourself back on track with diabetes management, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC) and the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Those steps, according to the CDC and ADA, include:

  • Celebrating successes – No one will be perfect at the diabetes management all the time. Don’t get overwhelmed by minor missteps or setbacks. Look at the bigger picture, be proud of what you are doing well, and keep moving forward.
  • Know you’re not alone – Almost everyone with diabetes experiences burnout from time to time. What’s important is to be able to shake off those feelings and refocus on your diabetes care.
  • Set small goals – Having too lofty of goals and focusing on them all at once can become overwhelming quickly. Eating healthy, working out, striving for a lower A1C level all take work. Start small and add to your goals over time.
  • Stay in touch – Don’t lose contact with your diabetes care provider. When you feel yourself starting to get burned out on your routine, visit your doctor to talk through some ways to get back on track.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how to tackle diabetes burnout.

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How are diabetes and depression related?

Studies have shown that people with diabetes have a greater risk of developing depression than others, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA). While there is no definite answer yet as to how exactly diabetes and depression are linked, research suggests that it is possible for diabetes to increase the risk of depression and also for depression to increase the risk for diabetes, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

According to the NIH, the issues can affect each other by:

  • Adding stress to the daily life with the task of managing diabetes
  • Ignoring your medication plan
  • Increased fatigue
  • Reducing overall mental health
  • Reducing overall physical health

In the U.S., people with diabetes are twice as likely as people without diabetes to have depression, according to the NIH. Also, people with depression have more severe symptoms of diabetes than people who have diabetes without depression.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how diabetes and depression are related.

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How can depression affect medication adherence for someone with diabetes?

Dr. Allen talks about how depression can affect medication adherence for people with diabetes. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Diabetes can sometimes feel overwhelming because a person with diabetes has a lot of lifestyle changes to focus on at once, which include eating the right diet, getting enough exercise, controlling blood sugar and managing medications. All these changes at once can become stressful, especially for a person newly diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

If everything becomes overwhelming, a person with diabetes and depression can end up taking a “what’s the difference” approach to taking their diabetes medication, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Choosing to ignore medication rather than adhere to taking it how the doctor prescribed can cause the person’s diabetes to become out of control, which can be very dangerous to their short term and long term health, according to the NIH.

For more information about how depression can affect how someone with diabetes takes their medication, talk with your doctor.

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Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.

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