What you should know about diabetes

An estimated 21 million people have diabetes in the U.S., representing 7% of the population. And of those, more than 6 million cases are undiagnosed.

Test Yourself on Diabetes

Diabetes NewsletterTrue or false? There is a blood test that can tell the average amount of sugar in your blood over the past three months.

True. It's called the A1C test, and it is the best way to know if your blood sugar is under good control.

True or false? Finding and treating diabetes early, along with receiving regular care, can decrease your chances of eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and other complications.

True. High blood sugar over a period of time can contribute to a number of complications. Keeping blood sugar as close to normal as possible helps to prevent these problems.

True or false? One session with a dietitian or diabetes educator should be enough to help you manage your diabetes for life.

False. Diabetes is a long-term condition and treatment measures change over time. It's best to see a diabetes educator or dietitian every 6-12 months.

True or false? It's not necessary for you to know your blood sugar levels as long as your health care provider knows them.

False. You need to play an active role in managing your diabetes. This includes keeping track of your numbers, so you know how well your treatment plan is working.

True or false? People with diabetes should have their feet, eyes, and kidneys checked regularly.

True. Diabetes-related problems can be prevented or slowed if they are found and treated early.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body has trouble changing food into needed energy. As a result, the levels of sugar in the blood become higher than normal. Often diabetes goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. The symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision

If you have one or more of these symptoms, see your doctor right away. Recent studies indicate the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.

Do You Have Pre-Diabetes?

Pre-diabetes means that a person's blood sugar numbers are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Millions of people have pre-diabetes but do not know it. Learn if you have pre-diabetes.

Types of Diabetes

There are several types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – the body stops making insulin or makes only a very small amount. Insulin is needed for the body to turn food into energy. Type 1 diabetes needs to be treated lifelong with insulin, meal planning, and exercise.
  • Type 2 diabetes – the body does not make enough insulin and the cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. Muscle and fat cells in the body need insulin to take up sugar from the blood. Type 2 diabetes needs to be treated lifelong with meal planning, exercise, and possibly medication. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type – more than 90% of patients with diabetes have this form of the disease.
  • Gestational diabetes – high blood sugar occurs during pregnancy, usually around the 24th week. It is often controlled with a special meal plan, and sometimes insulin is needed. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, but the woman is at risk for developing diabetes later in life.
  • Secondary diabetes – high blood sugar occurs as a result of other diseases. If the primary disease can be resolved, often the diabetes will go away.

Diabetes TestIf You Do Have Diabetes…

If you have diabetes, you already know how important it is to be an active partner in your health care. Managing diabetes well takes knowledge and effort on your part. Our goal at Aurora Health Care is to ensure that every person with diabetes receives the highest level of treatment and education. This is why diabetes management is one of Aurora's care management initiatives.

What You Can Do to Help Manage Your Diabetes

  • Know your numbers. Set goals with your health care provider: What should your blood sugar and A1C numbers be? How often should you have these tests?
  • Keep up with the latest information. If you have not seen a dietitian or diabetes educator within the past year, ask your health care provider to refer you to one. Check out our collection of links and other resources or join one of our classes or support groups.
  • Talk with your health care provider about how often you need the following:
    • Blood pressure checks
    • Cholesterol/blood fat levels
    • Dilated eye exam
    • Foot exam
    • Urine test for kidney function

    Find a health care provider

  • Be sure you understand and follow your treatment plan, including medications, meal plan, activity program, proper foot care, etc. By doing so, you'll be helping yourself meet your blood sugar goals.
  • Be a partner in your care. Work with your health care provider to develop a treatment plan that works for you. Keep track of your blood sugar and A1C numbers, your medications, appointments, and other key parts of your care. If you have questions or you think changes may be needed in your treatment plan, call your health care provider.

Information for Employers

If you are employer, see what the cost of diabetes is doing to your business.

DISCLAIMER: The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.