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Must-Know Facts about Diabetes

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Diabetes means you have too much sugar in your blood. High blood sugar problems start when your body no longer makes enough of a chemical, or hormone, called insulin. Your body changes much of the food you eat into a type of sugar. This sugar travels in your blood to all the cells in your body. Your cells need the sugar to give you energy. Insulin helps sugar move from your blood into your cells. Without insulin your cells can’t get the sugar they need to keep you healthy. By moving sugar from your blood to your body’s cells, insulin helps keep your blood sugar level normal. When you don’t have enough insulin to lower high blood sugar levels, you have diabetes.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

With type 2 diabetes, your body makes some insulin, but not enough. Or, the insulin your body makes does not work right. Much of the food you eat is changed by your body into a kind of sugar. The medical word for this sugar is glucose. Insulin helps sugar move from your blood into your body’s cells. If you don’t have enough Insulin to move sugar from your blood into your body’s cells, the amount of sugar in your blood goes up. When your blood sugar levels stay high, you have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults, but the number of children and young people with Type 2 diabetes is growing. Eating healthy foods, in the right amounts, and being physically active can help people lower your blood sugars. Most people with Type 2 diabetes take diabetes pills and many also take insulin.

What’s my A1C?

The A1C is a blood test you get at the provider’s office or health clinic. It shows your average blood sugar level for the past three months, and your risk of having other health problems because of diabetes. Your A1C test results are the best way to know if your blood sugar is under good control over time. A good A1C number is 7 or less and your provider will decide the A1C number that is best for you.

Diabetes and exercise

Always talk to your provider before starting any exercise program. Start slow and warm up a few minutes before and after you exercise. Find a friend to be active with. It will help you stick with it. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes and carry ID showing you have diabetes. Check your feet before and after exercise. Try to exercise 1-2 hours after a meal when you blood sugar is high. Check your blood sugar before and after you are active.

Diabetes cannot be cured, but you can control it! People who control their blood sugar levels can lead full happy lives, just like everyone else.

Editor's note: This blog was originally published on Oct. 5, 2019 and has since been updated.

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