Having diabetes can be hard, frustrating, and overwhelming. It can be a complicated disease to manage. Some are able to maintain their diabetes with diet and exercise, while others have to follow a complex management plan. Learning all the diabetes terms, symptoms, medications, diabetes treatments and equipment can be confusing. Luckily, there has been a lot of progress and innovation in diabetes management and there are many products and healthcare professionals out there to help you learn about and manage your diabetes.
Diabetes Basics: Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
There are three main types of diabetes, type 1, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and gestational diabetes. If you are unsure what type of diabetes you have, talk with your healthcare provider. Some people can have their diabetes managed by their primary healthcare provider while others need to go to an endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes care.
When you consume food and beverages, your body breaks down the nutrients and absorbs them into your blood. One of those nutrients is glucose which is a simple sugar and is essential to life. Measuring blood glucose levels is important. When a person’s glucose or blood sugar increases after a meal, the pancreas is signaled to release insulin. The pancreas makes insulin which is a hormone. Insulin helps the body convert the glucose in the blood into energy which aids in everyday body functions.
When someone has diabetes, the pancreas either doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work as well as it should. When this occurs, too much glucose builds up in the blood. This is harmful to the body in several ways.
Effects of Diabetes
If diabetes is ignored or managed poorly it will lead to other health consequences. Diabetes can contribute to conditions that affect the heart, blood pressure, kidneys, vision, nerves, and skin. The management of diabetes must be taken seriously. If you are struggling with diabetes management, have a serious talk with your healthcare provider, family, and friends about methods to help you navigate your diabetes treatment. Fortunately, there is a ton of education and products to help you learn and manage your diabetes.
Products That Will Help New Diabetics
Reading is a wonderful way to educate yourself on diabetes and how to manage it. There are many great books on diabetes. From type 1 diabetes to type 2, books range in topics, from diabetes medicines, supplements, hypoglycemia, to how to find the right healthcare professional. Remember to always look for a reputable book and author. You can even look for information endorsed or written by the American Diabetes Association or Food and Drug Administration. You don’t want to waste your time or money on a book that contains unsupported claims about how to cure diabetes.
A good book to start with for new diabetes is Bright Spots & Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me by Adam Brown. He shares diabetes tips about diet, exercise, and mindset. Many people who have read his book say that it was greatly beneficial to them. Note that the author is not a doctor but he is a diabetic who wrote this book to help other people with diabetes.
If you want to learn some diabetic-friendly recipes, try a diabetic cookbook. There are tons of cookbooks on the market from various sources that will teach you diabetic-friendly recipes. In general, being aware of your diet, including your intake of carbohydrates, cholesterol, and carbs, while maintaining a balance of healthy foods is critical for diabetic patients fighting obesity, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or just in general need of glucose monitoring! A highly rated cookbook that focuses on new diabetics is Diabetic Cookbook and Meal Plan for the Newly Diagnosed: A 4-Week Introductory Guide to Manage Type 2 Diabetes by Lori Zanini. If you prefer magazines, there are also several cooking magazines that focus on diabetic recipes.
Educating yourself about diabetes is essential. You are in control of your health and need to know how to manage your condition.
- Glucose Monitoring System
A glucose monitoring system is a device used to test your blood glucose. Your healthcare provider should let you know how often they would like you to check your blood sugar levels. Some diabetics only have to check their blood glucose a couple of times a week, while others have to check it several times a day. The frequency of your blood glucose checks will depend on your diabetes regiment, how you are feeling, and your provider’s instructions. If you are feeling unwell, it is a good idea to check your blood sugar levels. Oftentimes, especially with new diabetics, feeling unwell is a sign that your blood glucose is too high or too low.
Fortunately, there have been many technological advances in glucose monitoring systems. There are ones that upload your blood glucose numbers to your phone and send them to your doctor. There are ones that don’t require you to prick your fingers multiple times a day. The type of glucose monitoring system you will need and how often you should check your blood glucose will depend on your healthcare provider’s instructions. Talk with your healthcare provider to see what type of glucose monitoring system, or glucose meter, would be best for you. Talking with your insurance company may be necessary to see if they will cover the cost of your glucose monitoring system or if you will have to pay out of pocket.
- Journal or Phone App
Using a journal or app on your phone to record your meals and blood sugars can be very helpful to new diabetics or those diagnosed with prediabetes. By recording and looking back at your notes you will be able to see if there are any recurring patterns or adjustments needed. This is especially important if you are starting a new medication or regiment. Having a record of your meals and your blood glucose will help your healthcare provider identify if there need to be any changes to your regiment. It is also useful to record any symptoms you have while taking your diabetes medication. Some medications can cause side effects and your body needs time to get used to the medication or your provider may want to try a different medication.
- Glucose Tablets
If you’re prone to low blood sugar, you should carry some type of quick glucose source at all times. There are many brands of glucose tablets on the market today. These tablets are used to raise blood sugar fast when your glucose levels are too low. Having blood sugar that is too low is dangerous and can lead to losing consciousness.
Being diagnosed with diabetes can be scary and daunting - but it doesn’t have to be! The only thing to make sure you take your diabetes care seriously. Taking your blood pressure frequently, learning about related issues such as heart disease or neuropathy is tremendously important. Also - every body reacts differently! Make sure to talk to your doctor about potential side effects of their recommended treatments or drugs that are in clinical trials. Remember that just like learning any new skill or topic, it takes time and practice. You will not be able to learn everything in just one day. It will take time to learn your body and what works best for you.