Diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body uses food for energy. Diabetes occurs when the body fails to process sugar correctly. Normally, sugar circulates in your blood where it waits to enter cells to be used as fuel.

Having diabetes means that the body has trouble using sugar for fuel. The body needs insulin to use sugar as fuel. Having diabetes means the body does not make enough insulin or the insulin it does make doesn’t work very well. Blood sugar levels become too high.

There are two main types of full-blown diabetes. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin at all. People with Type 2 diabetes can produce insulin, but their cells don't respond to it. In either case, the sugar can't move into the cells. Blood sugar levels become high. High sugar levels cause serious complications over time.

You can learn to control your blood sugars. You can do that if you balance the food, insulin shots or other medicines, exercise, and stress in your life. When you have good sugar control you feel better. It also helps you lower your risk of having eye, kidney, and other problems from diabetes.

National Guidelines

These are the National Diabetes Guidelines you and your doctor should follow:

  1. You should get your blood drawn every three to six months to check an A1C level.
  2. Your A1C goal is generally recommended to be less than seven, ask your doctor what your A1C level is.
  3. You should see a certified diabetes educator to learn how to take care of your diabetes.
  4. You should exercise at least two and a half hours per week. You can walk, ride a bike or climb stairs. Talk to your doctor about muscle building exercises that you can do at least three times a week.
  5. You should have your flu shot every year. People with diabetes are very weak against the flu.
  6. You should have your PNEUMOVAX shot (“pneumonia shot”) at least once before age 65 years.
  7. You should have your blood pressure checked at every doctor visit. Your goal is less than 130/80.
  8. Adults should have cholesterol checked every year. “Bad cholesterol” (LDL) should be less than 100.
  9. You should not smoke. People with diabetes tend to have “thicker” blood and smoking makes the blood even more likely to stick together and form a clot.
  10. You should have your eyes checked every year to test for damage caused by diabetes. Do not wait until your vision starts to change, as it may be too late. Get this done every year as directed by your doctor.
  11. You should go to the dentist every year. Having healthy teeth and gums protects your heart and body from diabetes.
  12. You should have your feet examined every year.
  13. You should have your urine checked every year to test for kidney damage caused by diabetes.

Helpful Documents

View and print these helpful diabetes handouts