I Have Diabetes

Now What?

You just walked out of your physician's office, and your head is still spinning. You keep repeating your diagnosis over and over: "Diabetes, diabetes, diabetes..." Fortunately, you don't have to face it alone. Here's a six-step guide to help you make the most of life with diabetes.

1. Take a deep breath
Yes, diabetes is associated with increased risk of kidney, eye, and cardiac disease. If left unchecked, it can result in amputation and other complications. However, of the 20.8 million Americans with diabetes, many live fulfilling lives that aren't hampered by a diabetes diagnosis. With a little work and some determination, you can be one of them.

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to turn sugar, starches, and other food into energy. As diabetes increases the risk of many other conditions, keeping a close eye on the condition is vital to long-term health and well-being.

2. Do your research
Now that you've accepted your condition, hit the library and the Internet and seek diabetes experts in your community. Diabetes care is changing every day, and understanding what diabetes means in today's advanced medical climate will give you great hope for the future.

When searching online, look for .org or .gov sites* for the most reliable information. To make your search for reputable resources easier, many hospitals have onsite medical libraries. If your local hospital provides this wonderful service, take advantage of it. If you can't find the answers to your questions through your own research, ask those people who work at your hospital's library and other healthcare professionals you trust. Diabetes can be scary, but knowledge overcomes most fears.

3. Start a new life
If you've been eating what you want when you want and exercising when the mood strikes, it's time to change. Ideally, you should get at least 30 minutes of exercise three or more times a week, and your diet should be balanced and include a variety of fruits and vegetables with minimal carbohydrates.

Again, don't try to do it on your own. It's easy to get overwhelmed with lifestyle changes and simply give up. Ask your physician, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer how to make minor modifications to your daily routine that will enable you to properly manage your diabetes.

4. Follow the doctor's orders
When you've been feeling great for a few days, it's easy to forget that your physician knows best. However, sticking with lifestyle modifications and any medications you may have been prescribed is the best way to keep tight reigns on diabetes.

5. Tell your family and friends
Diabetes is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. By telling your loved ones about your diagnosis and lifestyle changes, they can better support you in your goals of a healthier life. Since diabetes often runs in families, your diagnosis may also probe other family members to undergo diabetes screening, allowing them to be diagnosed with diabetes early.

6. Keep it up
Maintaining a high quality of life with diabetes is possible, but it may not always be easy. When you find yourself getting discouraged, call your loved ones, drop in to see your personal trainer, visit your physician, or seek a diabetes support group for some words of encouragement. Then raise your head up high and keep fighting the good fight!

*The American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org) and the National Institutes of Health (nih.gov) are great examples of respected sites for diabetes information.

The Telltale Signs
The American Diabetes Association states that the following symptoms may indicate diabetes:
  • blurry vision
  • excessive thirst
  • extreme hunger
  • frequent urination
  • increased fatigue
  • irritability
  • unusual weight loss

If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact your physician immediately. By catching diabetes early, you can take steps to avoid the dangerous side effects of uncontrolled diabetes.

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