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Diabetes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Diabetes

How often should I check my blood sugar?

As a general rule, the American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetes patients check their blood sugar at least once a day. However, talk to your doctor about what is best for you, as the frequency at which you should check your blood sugar varies depending on the medication(s) you take, how recently you were diagnosed, how stable your sugar levels are and other health issues you may have.

To assure your blood sugar is consistently at a healthy level, vary the times you check your levels each day between just before eating and two hours after a meal. Target blood sugar levels should be 70 to 130 mg/dl before meals and under 180 mg/dl after meals.

What foods should I avoid?

Fast foods, concentrated sweets and foods that are highly processed are unhealthy for everyone if eaten frequently, but these food groups are especially dangerous for people with diabetes.

To stay healthy, nutritionists recommend a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats and heart-healthy fats.

Can I eat white grains?

White grains are generally less nutritious than whole grains. White grains have little fiber and have been so overly processed that they no longer contain any vitamins or nutrients.

However, an occasional indulgence – keeping portion control in mind – can fit within a healthy meal plan.

How is diabetes diagnosed? 

There are several ways to diagnose diabetes. Your health care provider may use any one of the following tests to indicate diabetes:

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test of greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl
  • Random Plasma Glucose Test of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl
  • A1C of greater than or equal to 6.5%

To confirm your accuracy, often tests need to be repeated on another day.

What is pre-diabetes? 

About 7 million people living with diabetes today are unaware that they have it. Another 79 million people have pre-diabetes – a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet to the level of Type 2 diabetes.

People who ultimately develop Type 2 diabetes almost always have pre-diabetes prior to their diagnosis. Pre-diabetes puts you at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What is the difference between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes? 

Type 1diabetes occurs when the body does not make any insulin and is mostly diagnosed in children and young adults. For Type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association suspects causes such as environmental factors, viruses and genetics. Type 2 diabetes – the most common form of diabetes – means the body does not make enough insulin or that the body cannot properly use the insulin it makes. Certain risk factors – such as age, weight and family history – are known to increase one’s chance of Type 2 diabetes.

Misconceptions about Diabetes

Misconceptions about diabetes are prevalent and prevent patients from seeking the treatment they need. Some of these myths include the following:

“I’m only borderline diabetic.”

Either you have diabetes, or you do not. If your blood-sugar levels meet certain thresholds, you can be considered diabetic or pre-diabetic.

“Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.”

The exact cause of diabetes isn’t known. For Type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association suspects causes such as environmental factors, viruses and genetics. Certain risk factors – such as age, weight and family history – are known to increase one’s chance of Type 2 diabetes.

“If it’s sugar free, the sky is the limit.”

Sugar-free foods have more to them than just sugar. Flour, milk and sugar alcohol all contribute to the carbs in a food. Look for “Total Carbohydrates” on the food label - not just the sugar - to know how the food fits within your meal plan.

“Diabetes is only ‘bad’ if you have to take insulin.”

Causing more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined, diabetes is a serious disease, whether you have to take insulin or not. While insulin has gotten a bad reputation over the years, it is really a natural hormone and a safe medication. Using insulin helps patients better manage their diabetes and lower the risk of complications.

Diabetes is a serious condition both on its own and because of the complications it can lead to. The risk for stroke and death from heart disease is two to four times higher among people with diabetes, and more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney failure - accounting for 44 percent of new cases in 2008 – and the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20 to 74 years.

Fortunately, diabetes is manageable with help from your physician and a team trained in diabetes care! To help reduce their risk of complications, people can manage their diabetes using their ABCs: 

  • A stands for A1C (a measure of average blood glucose)
  • B stands for blood pressure
  • C stands for cholesterol