Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. Glucose is vital to your health because it's an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues.

The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational (diabetes while pregnant). If you have diabetes, it means you have too much glucose in your blood, which can lead to serious health problems.

If you notice any possible diabetes symptoms, such as increased thirst or frequent urination, call your doctor immediately.

Take Action

If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important that you work with your doctor to get your blood sugar levels under control. Use this action plan to help get you started and work with your doctor to complete it together at your next visit.

Here are some things you can do to help you control your diabetes and live a healthy life.

Your doctor will work with you on a treatment plan for your diabetes, which will include regular blood sugar checks to help keep you on target.

If you have type 1 diabetes, your treatment will include insulin shots (or wearing an insulin pump) every day to manage your blood sugar levels.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to manage it by changing your diet and being more physically active. Your doctor may prescribe insulin or other medication to help you manage your blood sugar, but making changes to your diet and exercise routine are key, even if you take medicine. With type 2 diabetes, it’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol close to the targets you set with your doctor and to complete important screenings.

If you have gestational diabetes, go to all your prenatal appointments and follow your treatment plan with guidance from your doctor. It’s important that you’re checking your blood sugar, eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, and monitoring your baby’s growth and development. Your doctor may prescribe insulin, metformin, or other medication if you need help managing your blood sugar.

No matter what type of diabetes you have, the key to managing it includes eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and watching your blood sugar levels. Here are three things to focus on:

Learn all you can about your condition. Ask your doctor about diabetes self-management education and support services and to recommend a diabetes educator. Talk to your diabetes educator regularly and ask your diabetes health care team for help when you need it.

Eat well and maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can make a big difference in your blood sugar control. A healthy diet is one with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and healthy proteins, with a limited amount of saturated fat. Try adding a fruit or a veggie to each meal when you can!

Make physical activity part of your daily routine. Regular exercise can help prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, this can help to maintain better blood sugar control. We recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking most days. You can also try combining walking or dancing with weightlifting or yoga.

Living with diabetes can be hard and frustrating. Sometimes, even when you’ve done everything right, your blood sugar levels may still be high. But, it’s important to stick with your diabetes treatment plan if you want to see a positive change in your sugar levels when you visit your doctor.

Managing stress is key, as it can affect your blood sugar levels and lead to other health problems. You can lower stress and anxiety by being physically active, doing relaxation exercises like meditation or yoga, talking to a friend, limiting alcohol and caffeine in your diet, and getting enough sleep. You can also try adding these tips to your daily routine.

It might be helpful to talk with a mental health professional or others with diabetes who understand how you feel. Your doctor can recommend a mental health professional for you and may know of a local support group as well.

Along with your doctor and care team, it’s important to talk to your family and friends about your diabetes. It may not be easy, but it can help you manage your diabetes journey. Sharing your frustrations and your successes with people who understand what you’re going through can be helpful. You can start by identifying who you want to share your condition with and what you want to share. If it will help, keep a journal of the things you want to talk about.

Ask your doctor about diabetes self-management education and support services and to recommend a diabetes educator. Meet with your diabetes educator and ask your diabetes health care team for help when you need it. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover up to 10 hours of diabetes education in the first year of diagnosis. After the first year, your coverage may be different. Call the Customer Service number on your member ID card for more information.Always talk with your doctor about your condition, any concerns you have, or changes to your health.


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