Seven Factors to Know When Managing Diabetes

So you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Now what? To help you get up to speed, here are answers to a few commonly asked questions about type 2 diabetes:

Who gets type 2 diabetes?

People of all ages and races are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, you are at a higher risk for the disease if you are overweight or obese; of African-American, Native American, Asian-American or Hispanic ethnicity; have high blood pressure or cholesterol; inactive; and have poor nutrition. To learn more about diabetes risk factors, read Type 2 Diabetes: Are you at risk?

What symptoms do people experience?

The vast majority of diabetics are asymptomatic. The disease is often discovered during an annual exam with a primary care physician. Symptoms may include increased thirst or hunger, frequent urination, blurry vision, fatigue and weight loss.

How is diabetes treated?

The first line of treatment is diet modification and exercise. For many people, this is enough to successfully manage the condition. The next step is oral medications. There are several medication options available and your physician will select the right one for you based on your individual situation. After oral medication, your physician may recommend injection medications to slow the rate that food leaves your stomach and signal to your liver to make less glucose around mealtimes. Finally, some people may require insulin therapy to control their blood sugar. Insulin is typically taken via needle and syringe, insulin pen or through an inhaler.

What is the best diet for diabetics?

Focus on a heart-healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats. Also, take care to decrease cholesterol and sodium intake. For most diabetes patients – with the exception of those on insulin – the timing of meals is not important.

How much exercise do I need to get?

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of physical activity a week, which works out to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Before starting an exercise program, talk to your primary care physician. He or she can make sure you’re able to start an exercise routine and guide you as you gradually build up to more physical activity.

Are there any complications connected to the disease?

Every diabetic needs a yearly eye exam and foot exam to check for eye issues and nerve damage to the feet. Diabetics should also get regular heart disease screenings as they’re at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

Can the condition be reversed?

Although there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, the condition can be successfully managed through diet, exercise and medication. Weight loss is especially important – losing even a small amount of weight can help get your blood sugar under control and may even lead to being able to stop medication or insulin.

Learn more about diabetes care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Want to learn your potential risk for diabetes? Take Edward-Elmhurst Health’s free DiabetesAware online assessment.

To make an appointment, visit us online or call 630-527-6363.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hudec, call 331-221-9003.