Common Questions About Diabetes
If you’re among the more than 34 million Americans living with diabetes, you understand that the disease brings with it a lot of uncertainty, concerns and possible complications. If you’re the parent, friend or family member of someone with diabetes, you see how managing blood sugar becomes a daily responsibility that requires serious effort and commitment, not to mention a host of diabetic supplies and medications in most cases.
There’s no getting around it. Living with diabetes is more challenging than living without it and this, in itself, is bound to lead to a lot of questions about the disease. In this post, we focus on some common questions we hear about diabetes. The answers we give are by no means intended to guide your treatment program. Rather, they are provided as information that we hope will help you better understand the disease.
10 Frequently Asked Questions About Diabetes
Q:How do I know if I’m diabetic? What are the warning signs?
A: There are some telltale symptoms of diabetes, including frequent urination, dizziness, feeling overly thirsty, rapid weight loss, and headaches. However, the only way to know for sure if you are diabetic and whether you are Type 1 or Type 2 is to see your doctor and get a simple blood test, which will measure your blood sugar level.
A: There’s a big difference. Type 1 diabetes used to be known as “juvenile diabetes” because it tends to develop during the adolescent years. This form of diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body is unable to produce insulin, the hormone necessary for the cells to properly process blood glucose and turn it into energy. Insulin therapy will be required for life if you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, however, is the most common form of the disease, accounting for upwards of 95% of all cases. In instances of Type 2 diabetes, the body is able to produce insulin, but it either doesn’t produce enough or can’t process it effectively. This type of diabetes is not solely genetic and contributing factors, including diet, exercise and weight all play a role in its development.
Q:Is diabetes caused by being overweight?
A: The short answer is no. But the better answer is partially. While there is no evidence that obesity is the direct cause of diabetes, it is a strong contributor to the development of Type 2 diabetes, particularly in someone with a family history of the disease. Increased body fat is believed to interfere with the job of insulin, which is to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells where it can become energy. This leads to insulin resistance and a gradual build-up of blood sugar. If left unchecked, it will very likely lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Q:How bad do finger pricks hurt?
A: Not bad at all. The secret is to make sure you have the right diabetic supplies, in this case a lancet, test strip and compatible glucose meter. Lancets are the actual pricking devices, and they are extremely sharp for virtually painless testing. It’s important to prick the side of the fingertip not the pad where more nerve endings lie. It’s also a good idea to switch up fingers to avoid sore spots. However, for most people with diabetes a few daily pricks are no big deal and simply become a matter of routine. However, there are ways to avoid finger pricks. See the next question.
Q:Do I have to prick my finger every day to test my blood sugar?
A: The answer depends on what your diabetes physician thinks works best for your testing needs. That being said, there are devices called Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems (CGM) that virtually eliminate the need for finger pricks. These small digital devices usually attach to the abdomen just under the skin and provide continuous blood sugar readings throughout the day. Popular CGM’s like the FreeStyle Libre and Dexcom G6 have been proven to lower A1C levels dramatically and provide much better control over blood sugar. Blood sugar readings are available as often as every minute and are transmitted to a wireless receiver or smartphone for instant access. CGM’s can help you and your care team better track blood sugar, identify trends and fluctuations, and adapt your treatment plan for optimal diabetes control.
Q:I keep hearing about A1C, so what exactly does it mean?
A: Your A1C is an important number. It is the average measurement of your blood glucose over a 2–3-month period and it can be determined by a simple blood test at your doctor’s office. Normal A1C levels are below 5.7%. Prediabetes levels are 5.7% to 6.4%. Diabetes is diagnosed at 6.5% or above. The goal for most people diagnosed with diabetes is to maintain an A1C around 7%. This number is important because it measures glucose levels over time and prolonged high blood sugar is linked to many diabetes-related complications, including heart disease and nerve damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone diagnosed with diabetes get an A1C test at least twice a year and more often if medication changes or other health concerns arise.
A: Unfortunately, the answer is not yet. Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you have diabetes for life. However, there are two primary types of diabetes - Type 1 and Type 2. If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it means your body does not produce insulin and you will need medication for life. However, if you have Type 2 diabetes, it is possible to manage it to the point that you do not need insulin injections or other medication and have zero symptoms. This is done by dietary and lifestyle changes that allow blood sugar to stay within the normal range. Even so, medically speaking you will still have diabetes.
Q:Does alcohol raise or lower blood sugar?
A: The answer is it can do both. A small amount of alcohol tends to raise blood sugar, particularly if it’s a high-carb beverage like beer or a sweet or syrupy cocktail. However, if you drink too much alcohol, it can impede the liver’s ability to release glucose into the bloodstream and actually cause a low blood sugar episode. The key with diabetes and booze is moderation. A drink is probably fine. Too much is a bad idea.
Q:What’s the best time to exercise if I have diabetes?
A: Physical activity is key to managing diabetes and keeping your blood glucose under control. When’s the best time to be active? It really doesn’t matter. The best time for fitness is whatever time works best for you and allows you to stay active regularly. It is important to test your blood sugar before and after activity to measure the impact on your blood sugar and see if you need a little added fuel before that brisk walk - maybe a nice piece of fruit. Beyond that exercise is a great way to help manage diabetes. There is one caveat. If you’re just starting, be sure not to overdo it. It’s important that you talk to your doctor before beginning any activity or fitness routine.
Q:Why is diabetes management so expensive?
A: If insurance doesn’t cover all your diabetes medication and supply needs, or you don’t have insurance, it can certainly become expensive to manage your diabetes. However, there are ways to reduce these costs, such as buying in bulk and shopping online for supplies and equipment. If finances are a major concern, talk to your doctor about alternative treatments or lower-cost medications. Also, do your homework. Shop around and look for the best deals. Chances are they are not at your local pharmacy or supply company. Look online and you just might save a bundle.
At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to keeping you informed with the latest news and updates on living with diabetes. We can also save you up to 65% on a complete online selection of diabetic supplies and equipment.
Visit our website to shop for glucose meters, test strips, lancets, insulin syringes, pen needles, infusion sets, continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGM), ketone test strips, blood pressure monitors, and much more. Choose from leading manufacturers, including FreeStyle, Dexcom, Accu-Chek, TRUEmetrix, One Touch, Contour Next and many others. Enjoy free delivery to your home or office with every order. Hear what our satisfied customers have to say and start saving now.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit https://www.diabeticwarehouse.org.