Your Diabetes. For Life.
Feeling Better and Staying Healthy
Taking control of diabetes has many benefits.
Keeping blood sugar levels normal or close to normal can make a big
difference now and in the future for people with diabetes.
the short run, people with diabetes
who take control will:
Have more energy.
the signs and symptoms of high blood sugar such as:
feeling very thirsty and tired;
losing a lot of weight;
having blurred vision; and
having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal.
the long run, people with diabetes
who take control will:
their chances of having diabetes problems such as eye disease, kidney disease,
and nerve damage. People with
diabetes who keep their blood sugar levels normal or close to normal for life
are predicted to gain, on average:
5 extra years of life;
8 more years of eyesight;
6 years free from kidney disease; and
6 years free from amputations and nerve damage.
better quality of life.
Your Blood Sugar Numbers . . . 2 Tests to Measure Blood Sugar Control
To control your diabetes, you must know your blood sugar
(also called blood glucose) numbers. Regular
testing can help you track your blood sugar numbers to see if they stay close to
normal or go up and down. Testing
your blood sugar helps you see how well you are balancing your food intake,
physical activity, medicine, and stress. Itís the only way to know for sure whether you are
controlling your diabetes. If your
blood sugar levels are too high or too low, you need to work with your health
care provider to change your treatment plan and reach your target level of
There are two types of blood sugar tests to manage your
diabetes. One is the hemoglobin
A1c test (also called H-b-A-one-c), which is given by a health care
provider. It measures the average
amount of sugar in your blood over an extended period of time.
The other is a finger-stick test you
can do yourself using a blood glucose meter to measure your blood sugar at the
time of the test. Together, these
tests give a complete picture of blood sugar control.
The Hemoglobin A1c
The hemoglobin A1c is a laboratory blood test
that all people with diabetes should have on a regular basis.
The test shows your average blood sugar level over the past 3 months.
The test is conducted by taking a small amount of blood and measuring the
amount of sugar attached to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells.
Results are given in percentages.
If your results show that your blood sugar is normal or
close to normal and stable, you should have the hemoglobin A1c test
at least twice a year. If your
treatment changes (for example, you start taking a new medicine or change your
diet) or if your blood sugar stays too high, you should get the test every 3
months until your blood sugar level improves.
A1c Testing Goal
hemoglobin A1c goal for people with diabetes is less than 7 percent.
But, if you can lower your hemoglobin A1c number by any
amount, you will improve your chances of staying healthy. A change in treatment is almost always needed if the
hemoglobin A1c is over 8 percent.
for Getting the Hemoglobin A1c Test
health care provider for a hemoglobin A1c test at least two times a
health care provider to explain your test result and to help you set a
hemoglobin A1c goal.
record of your hemoglobin A1c test results.
test result is too high or too low, talk to your health care provider about how
to improve it.
The Finger-stick Test Using a Blood Glucose Meter
You can check changes in your blood sugar by doing a
finger-stick test using a blood glucose meter.
This test tells you the level of sugar in your blood at the time of the
test. Results are given in
milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).
your health care provider about the best blood sugar goal for you.
Ideal finger-stick testing goals for
people with diabetes are:
Tips for Finger-stick Testing
health care provider how, when, and how often to test your blood sugar.
record of your blood sugar tests. Write
down each blood sugar reading and the date and time you took it.
health care provider to review your record and to help you set finger-stick
testing blood sugar goals.
record of your blood sugar readings to decide how to manage your diabetes day by
blood sugar numbers are too high or too low, talk with your health care provider
about ways to improve them.
Your Blood Sugar Goal . . . Tips to Control Blood Sugar
People with diabetes can do a lot to reach their blood
sugar goal. Those who use these
tips to make healthy lifestyle choices can look forward to enjoying a much
better quality of life.
- Test your blood sugar.
Ask your health care provider when and how
- Keep a record of
your blood tests, medicines, and daily events.
Review the record with your health care provider.
- Take your diabetes medicine as
prescribed. Your medicine plan
should make you feel better and fit your lifestyle.
- Eat foods that are low in fat, salt, and sugar and
high in fiber to control your blood
Eat about the same number of calories each day, choose a variety of
foods, and never skip meals. See
a dietitian to create a meal plan that is right for you.
- Get physical activity.
Check with your health care provider before you begin an exercise
program. If you havenít been
active, start slowly. Good activities are walking and swimming.
- Check your feet for
cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling that can result from
diabetes-related nerve damage. Call
your health care provider right away about any sores that wonít heal.
If you prevent problems such as foot ulcers, you can greatly reduce
your risk of amputation.
To Keep in Mind Along the Way
- Stay at a weight that is right for you.
Ask your health care provider what you should
weigh. Be more active and eat
foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, grains and cereals, low-fat dairy
foods, and lean meats, chicken, and fish.
- Treat low blood sugar quickly with
special tablets or gel made of glucose.
- Donít smoke. Smoking
damages your heart and circulatory system, which can lead to heart disease
and poor circulation for people with diabetes.
Talk to your health care provider about ways to quit.
- Manage stress.
with a trusted friend, take up a hobby, make time for physical activity, and
take 1 day at a time. Talk to
your health care provider about how to handle stress.
- Learn more about diabetes and diabetes
your health care provider to suggest a dietitian and a diabetes educator to
help you manage your diabetes. In
1998, people with diabetes who have Medicare insurance will begin receiving
benefits for diabetes education services.
- Seek support from family and friends or join a
diabetes support group to help you gain control.
Call your local hospital or health department to find a support
To Do With Your Health Care Providers
- Write down your questions
and take them with you to each visit.
- Ask for a hemoglobin A1c test at
least twice a year if your blood sugar is normal or close to normal and
stable. If your blood sugar
levels are too high or too low, work with your health care provider to
change your treatment plan and reach your target level of control. The hemoglobin A1c goal for people with diabetes is less
than 7 percent.
- Ask for regular
blood pressure checks,
cholesterol tests, and other
blood fat tests. Getting these tests can help your health care
provider diagnose and treat problems early and refer you to a specialist if
- At least once a year, have a dilated eye exam to
check for eye disease, a foot exam to
check circulation and nerves, and
a urine test to check kidney
function. Your health care
providers are trained to find small problems and prevent them from turning
into big ones.
- See your dentist at
least twice a year. Tell your
dentist you have diabetes. Getting
regular dental check-ups is the best way to prevent gum and teeth problems
when you have diabetes.
with diabetes shares a common goal Ė to gain control of their blood sugar.
There is no single, clear, and simple path to follow.
People with diabetes should work with a health care provider to find the
individual treatment program that works best for them.
The good news is that people with diabetes can
reach their blood sugar goals. And
for these people, it makes a big difference in feeling better and staying
Sugar Under Control . . . Tips to Maintain Blood Sugar Control
blood sugar under control takes a lot of effort, but itís a challenge that can
be met. These tips can help people with diabetes stick with
their self-care goals and manage setbacks.
Set Goals You Can Reach
- Break a big goal into small steps.
If you plan to increase your physical activity, start by taking one
5-minute walk three times a week. Then
try walking longer or more often.
- Make changes that you can stick with for
the rest of your life. If you
want to lose weight and keep it off, be active and limit portion sizes.
Donít just go on a ďdiet.Ē
Create a Plan to Deal With Diabetes
- Think about all your reasons
keeping your blood sugar under control.
Make a list and post it where you see it often.
Common reasons include feeling better, staying healthy, and reducing
the risk of long-term diabetes problems.
- Figure out what can tempt you to slip up when
it comes to blood sugar control. Typical
reasons for slipping up include working under stress, feeling blue, dealing
with family pressures, dining out, and traveling away from home.
Decide now how you will handle these events next time.
- Reward yourself for
staying in control. Rent a movie,
buy a plant, or spend time with a friend.
- Put a positive spin on your diabetes
Think of your self-care plan as a good guide for
anyone who wants to be healthy and fit.
- Make time to relax.
Take a few deep breaths to help ease tension and stress.
Set aside a few minutes each day to close your eyes and relax all
- Ask for a little help
friends and family when youíre down or need someone to talk to. Make it a habit to call someone to ďcheck inĒ and
report on your progress.
- Admit that youíve slipped.
Learn what you can from it.
Donít be too hard on
yourself. A setback is not the
end of the world.