Just Diagnosed with Diabetes?
The first thing you need to do is relax and take a breath.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), about 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year. In other words, you’re not alone.
Nobody wants to hear their doctor say, “You have diabetes.” It’s frightening, confusing and leaves most people wondering what to do next. While we’re not going to tell you that being newly diagnosed with diabetes is a good thing, we can confidently tell you that being diagnosed with diabetes is in no way devastating news. In fact, more than 34 million people in the United States are currently living with diabetes and, thanks to advancements in understanding and treating the disease, doing so is easier than ever before. Additionally, if you’ve been recently diagnosed as an adult, you most likely have Type 2 diabetes, and that means you can actually have a big impact in how well you control and manages your diabetes. You might even be able to avoid needing insulin or other medication altogether.
Okay, so you have diabetes. What now?
First, Relax and Accept
When first diagnosed with diabetes, most people just don’t want to believe such a thing could happen to them. That’s human nature. Additionally, the stigma that Type 2 diabetes only happens to people who are overweight and “lazy” only reinforces the feeling that this is somehow all your fault. While it is true that weight and activity often play a major role in Type 2 diabetes, so do genetic predispositions. Some people who are overweight never get diabetes. Some people who are not overweight do develop the disease.
What is certain is that diabetes is the result of the body not being able to produce enough insulin or use it effectively in order to move blood sugar from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. The result is a build-up of blood sugar which can lead to dangerous health complications. Diabetes is a medical condition and looking at it as a personal failing isn’t going to do you any better than wallowing and wondering – how could this happen to me?
So, relax, take a deep breath, and get ready to proactively make a difference in how you live with diabetes.
Understand That Your Diagnosis Is Positive News
The biggest danger for people with diabetes is not knowing they’ve developed the disease. The sooner diabetes is diagnosed the more effectively and easily it can be managed. The reality is that the shocking news you received was going to come at some point. The fact that you’re now aware that you have diabetes means you can do something about it, and avoid more serious diabetes-related conditions, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, eye problems, foot problems and many other complications.
Hopefully, you’ve already sat down with your diabetes physician and care team to evaluate your specific situation. Listen closely to what they have to say and make sure you follow their instructions. While there is no cure for diabetes as of yet, there are medications and lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve how you live with the disease.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, following your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan is essential to living healthy. At Diabetic Warehouse, we make it easy to find the tools and supplies you need, including glucose meters and test strips, continuous glucose monitoring devices, insulin syringes, pen needles, infusion sets and more at savings of up to 65% over pharmacies and other suppliers. We also have a great selection of diabetic starter kits that package all the essential items you need for testing and treatment. Learn more at Diabeticwarehouse.org.
10 Tips for Those New To Diabetes
- Always Listen to Your Doctor
This is the most important rule of living with diabetes. If your doctor prescribes insulin, or any other medications, be sure to take them as directed. If you need insulin there are various delivery options your doctor might recommend based on your age, mobility, and dosage needs. These include syringe injections, insulin pens and pen needles, and insulin pumps.
You can bet that your care team is also going to make some lifestyle recommendations (more on these below). Following them will make managing your blood sugar and living with diabetes a whole lot easier. Remember, before making any changes to your diabetes treatment plan or lifestyle regimen, always consult with your diabetes physician.
- Dietary changes
The food you consume, how much you eat, and when you eat it all have a big impact on managing blood sugar levels. Chances are, you’re going to have to alter your diet to include more proteins and other healthy choices, while minimizing sugars, fats and processed foods which can all elevate blood sugar levels. Again, your doctor and care team will help guide you on this path, but it’s important to point out that a healthy diabetes diet is simply a healthy diet. It’s good for you whether you have diabetes or not. You won’t have to deprive yourself of all your favorite foods, you’ll simply need to moderate and manage what you eat a little more closely. There are a lot of resources out there to help you do this, including the diabetes plate method, often touted as the easiest way to create a healthy diabetes meal plan. You can also find helpful dining insights and diabetes-friendly recipes online at websites like diabeticfoodie.com.
- Get moving
If you’re not already following some sort of physical activity or exercise regimen, being newly diagnosed with diabetes is a good reason to get started on one. Physical activity not only helps blood sugar move from the bloodstream into the cells, it also helps burn fat and control weight. Again, it’s important to consult with your diabetes physician before beginning any fitness regimen as we all start out at different levels and you don’t want to overdo it. However, nobody expects you to become a triathlete. If you’re just starting out, a short morning or afternoon stroll is a great way to kick things off. Try to walk at a comfortable pace for five minutes, then step it up to a brisk walk for another five, and, finally, wind down at an easy pace for another five. That’s 15 minutes out of your day to start a routine that can dramatically improve your health - especially as someone living with diabetes.
- Test your blood sugar and know your target range
Your doctor and care team will inform you of your target blood sugar level and tell you how often you’ll need test for it. Testing blood sugar is usually done by pricking your finger with a lancet and then using a glucose meter and test strip to measure your blood glucose level. Testing is important for two reasons. One, it tells you and your care team exactly where your blood sugar level lies at any given time. Equally important, it helps gauge how your body is responding to insulin treatments and other medications, as well as how your blood sugar level changes after eating or performing physical activity. Testing is crucial to gaining the insights needed to create a diabetes care plan built to address your individual blood sugar patterns.
- Learn to recognize the signs of high and low blood sugar
The primary goal when living with diabetes is to maintain safe blood sugar levels. Still, sometimes it can drop or elevate for several different reasons. It’s important to recognize the signs of both.
High Blood Sugar Symptoms (Hyperglycemia)
- Increased thirst/dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Stomach pain
- Fruity smell on breath
If you experience any of these symptoms, test your blood sugar right away. If it is mildly high some easy physical activity might help lower it. However, if you test extremely high do not do any activity and call your doctor right away.
Low Blood Sugar Symptoms (Hypoglycemia)
- Quickened heart rate
- Pale Skin
- Blurred Vision
If you experience any of these symptoms test your blood sugar. If it is low try eating half a banana, a small apple, or drinking 4 ounces of your favorite fruit juice. This can elevate blood sugar. If symptoms are severe or persist, contact your doctor right away.
- Focus on Being Healthy, Not Losing Weight
Too many people recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes find themselves desperately trying to lose weight, which as we all know is easier said than done. Yes, weight loss will help with diabetes. But don’t become frustrated if you can shed the pounds right away. If you follow the dietary and exercise tips provided earlier in this post, and adhere to those given by your diabetes physician, it’s more than likely the weight will come off. Your goal should be a general move toward healthy living, not instant weight loss.
- Do Everything You Can but Remember Diabetes is a Progressive Disease
If you do all the right things, the overwhelming odds are you’ll be able to live a happy and healthy life with diabetes. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t eventually require insulin even if you’re not taking it now. It also doesn’t mean your insulin dosage won’t increase over time despite your healthy living efforts. Diabetes is a progressive disease and 30%-40% of all Type 2 diabetes patients will end up requiring insulin. So don’t beat yourself up if you require additional medication at some point. The things you do to live a healthier life will certainly be beneficial regardless of your medication needs.
- It’s Okay to Feel Anxiety
If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes in recent weeks or even months, it’s absolutely okay to feel a bit of “diabetic dread”. It’s never easy to learn that you have a disease - even if it is a manageable one like diabetes. Your life is going to change and that can feel daunting. It’s okay to feel the anxiety. Just be sure to also remember that you’re not alone; that millions of your peers are living very productive lives with diabetes; and that these days managing blood sugar levels and diabetes is easier than ever before. You can do it. And you will.
- Don’t go at it Alone
Your doctors and nurses will be there to support you. Your family will be on your side, too. But sometimes that’s not enough. The good news is there are a lot of resources to help you educate yourself on diabetes and find support from experts and others like you who are living with the disease.
Online resources include: the American Diabetes Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Mayo Clinic, as well as online communities and support groups, such as Taking Control of Your Diabetes and the Diabetes Educator, a resource that can help you find a care and education specialist in your area.
- Always Have the Right Medication And Supplies.
Following your diabetes treatment plan is key to living with the disease. Make sure you always have your prescribed medication easily at hand, as well as all the diabetic supplies you need.
At Diabetic Warehouse, we provide a wide online selection of diabetic devices and supplies from manufacturers, including FreeStyle, OneTouch, Accu-Chek, Medtronic and Easy Comfort. Save up to 65% on glucose meters, test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, and diabetic starter kits. We guarantee prompt delivery to your home or office for maximum ease and convenience.
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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, test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.