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Diabetes: The Basics

Understanding Diabetes

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Diabetes: The Basics

Diabetes affects over 29 million people in the United States and nearly one-third of these people don’t know they have the disease.

89 million people (more than 1 out of 3) have pre diabetes and 9 out of 10 do not know it

Now that you know

Finding out you have diabetes can be difficult to handle emotionally. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available. You just want to know the best practices for you to be healthy. Like most issues with your health, it is important to stay positive. With knowledge and a plan, you can successfully manage your diabetes and go on to live a happy and healthy life.

What is Diabetes?

If you have been told that you have diabetes, it is important to understand the disease. People with diabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels. To understand what causes your blood sugar level to be high, you must understand how your body breaks down food for fuel. Your intestines break down the food you eat into sugar. This sugar is carried by the bloodstream to your body’s cells. To help your cells absorb the sugar, a gland organ in your body called the pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. The insulin is carried by the bloodstream to assist in the body’s cells absorption of sugar for energy.

Diabetes is a disease causing low levels of insulin in the bloodstream. The pancreas of people with diabetes makes little or no insulin. Some people with diabetes are also resistant to the insulin their pancreas does produce, which in turn prevents the body’s cells from absorbing enough sugar for energy.

The risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Excess body weight
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Ethnic background: African American, Hispanic, Native 
  • Low activity level
  • High fat, high calorie diet
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • History of diabetes during pregnancy
  • Given birth to baby weighing more than 9 pounds

Managing Your Diabetes

To live a healthy life, it is important to understand how to manage your diabetes. You can control your blood sugar levels with meal planning, exercise, medicine (if necessary) and visits with your diabetes care team. Your doctor or diabetes care team member will help you decide what blood sugar target range you should try to stay within. In order to maintain good control, you should monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and according to your doctor’s or diabetes care team member’s direction.

Your Diabetes Care Team

To properly manage your diabetes, it is important for you to work closely with the members of your diabetes care team. Some healthcare professionals who are a part of your diabetes care team and may help you with your treatment plan include:

  • Primary Care Doctors
  • Endocrinologists
  • Registered Dieticians
  • Educators and Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • CMSI – Your Diabetes Testing Supply and Education Partner
  • Other members of your diabetes care team may include: Ophthalmologists, Podiatrists, Cardiologists, Gastroenterologists, Urologists, Nephrologists, Neurologists, Obstetricians/Gynecologists, Psychologists, and Social Workers

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Characteristics of People Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Body makes no insulin
  • Not overweight (slender)
  • Quick start of symptoms
  • Increased urination, thirst, and appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Positive urine test done by doctor
  • 10% of all Americans with diabetes
  • Usually diagnosed under 35 years of age

Characteristics of People Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Body does not make enough insulin or makes insulin the body cannot use
  • Usually overweight
  • Slow start of symptoms or no symptoms at all
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-to-heal cuts
  • Tingling or numbness in hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, mouth, or bladder infections
  • Increased urination, thirst, and appetite
  • 90% of all Americans with diabetes
  • Usually diagnosed over 40 years of age (diagnosis in 
children and teens increasing rapidly)

Standards of Care

The American Diabetes Association has established Standards of Care for the treatment of people with diabetes and other diseases/conditions. Standards of Care provide standardized guidelines about treatment. It is important for you to know what you and your diabetes care team should be doing to properly manage your diabetes. 
The following list of exams and periodic lab tests will help you keep your diabetes in check and prevent or delay the long-term health problems associated with diabetes:


  • Self-monitoring of blood sugar (at least 2x/day)
  • Make healthy food decisions
  • Take medications if prescribed for diabetes control and 
blood pressure
  • Take baby aspirin (if doctor advises)
  • Get some regular exercise and activity
  • Check eyes, feet, skin for changes
  • Brush teeth after meals
  • Avoid smoking


  • Visit with doctor
  • A1C test (every three months if previous value was 
above normal range)
  • Blood pressure check
  • Foot exam (socks off)
  • Review of blood sugar self-monitoring records
  • Review diabetes self-care skills
  • Weight check
  • Review of all medications


  • Visit with doctor
  • A1C test (unnecessary if previous quarterly value was 
  • Blood pressure check
  • Foot exam (socks off)
  • Review of blood sugar self-monitoring records
  • Weight check
  • Review of all medications


  • Visit with doctor
  • Screening urine (micro-albumin) level (and as needed)
  • Screening lipid (cholesterol) pro le (and as needed)
  • Foot exam with sensation check
  • Immunizations, including u shot
  • Routine EKG
  • Ongoing self-care education
  • Counsel on pregnancy planning (if needed)

Your healthy goals

Staying Healthy

By staying as close to your recommended blood sugar target range as possible, you can lower your risk of long-term complications related to your diabetes. Diabetes studies have shown that blood sugar control can reduce eye, kidney, and nerve disease resulting from diabetes by 50%. By improving your blood sugar control, you will reduce your risk of developing these complications.

To ensure that you are doing everything possible to stay healthy, review the following with your diabetes care team members

  • Feet exam – At each visit
  • High and low blood sugar test results – At each visit or 
as needed
  • Blood sugar target range goal – At each visit or as 
  • Meal plan – At each visit or as needed
  • Glycosylated hemoglobin A1C levels – Quarterly
  • Cholesterol and triglycerides – Every 6 months
  • Urine micro-albumin or protein levels – Annually

What You Should Know 

Understand what diabetes is and how it may affect you. Your doctor and diabetes care team members will help you develop a plan to control your diabetes and live a healthy life.

What You Should Do

As you begin to manage your diabetes, the most important areas are:

  • Understand your goals
  • Proper meal planning
  • Be active every day
  • Monitor your blood sugar daily
  • Brush and floss your teeth
  • Take your medications (when prescribed)
  • Check your feet
  • Visit your doctor quarterly
  • Visit your dentist annually
  • Visit your eye doctor annually

Discovering that you have diabetes can be emotional. However, learning about the disease and how you can manage it is helpful to many with diabetes. Once you have an understanding of how this disease affects your body, you can work together with your diabetes care team professionals to establish the best treatment plan for you. To determine the effects of this treatment plan, you and your diabetes care team should closely monitor your condition. Through regular blood sugar testing, routine exams, and lab tests, you can successfully manage your diabetes.

You are not alone in this challenge. With the support of your diabetes care team, you can live a healthy and happy life with diabetes.

The founders of NUTURNA believe every diabetic has the right to proper health care regardless of their financial position…

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