Controlling Diabetes

diabetes in fairfax virginia

Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. have diagnosed, and it’s estimated that over 8 million people have undiagnosed diabetes. People with diabetes are unable to regulate the glucose levels in their blood and their bodies produce too little insulin, don’t use insulin efficiently, or a combination of both. There are different types of diabetes, such as:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Prediabetes (glucose intolerance or insulin resistance

Luckily, diabetes can be managed to prevent other complications from developing such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. Through lifestyle changes and medication, you can start to see a difference in your health and decrease the effects that diabetes has on you.

Conditions Associated With Diabetes

People with diabetes are at a higher risk for many health conditions, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Chest pain
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Weak immune system
  • Eye problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney infection
  • Prostate infection
  • Kidney failure
  • Skin Problems
  • Stroke
  • Infertility

Diagnosing Diabetes

The first step in managing diabetes is being diagnosed with the condition. At Virginia Heart & Vascular Institute in Fairfax, we can measure your glucose levels using:

  • Finger stick test
  • Hemoglobin A1c test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test
  • Fasting glucose test

Normal blood glucose levels are approximately:

  • 90-130 mg/dL before breakfast snacks, and dinner
  • Less than 160 mg/dL two hours after meals
  • 110-150 mg/dL at bedtime

Managing Diabetes

After being diagnosed with diabetes, it’s vital to make the necessary changes to avoid the complications described above. Below are some of the different diabetes management techniques we use and recommend.

  • Medication

People with type 1 diabetes will need insulin replacement therapy delivered through an injection or an insulin pump. There is also oral medication available to help increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin so that the therapy is more effective.

  • Blood glucose monitoring

It is very important to regularly monitor your blood glucose levels if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. There are several different options for testing blood glucose, including a variety of finger stick tests and tests that allow you to draw blood from your forearm.

  • Healthy diet

It’s recommended to meet with a nutritionist or dietician to create a meal plan safe for people with diabetes. There are certain restrictions that you should be aware of to manage your glucose levels. For example:

  • 6-11 servings of grains or starches
  • 3-5 servings of vegetables
  • 2-4 servings of fruit
  • 2-3 servings of dairy

4-6 ounces of meats, poultry, and fish

It’s best to plan your meals ahead of time, and eat around the same time each day. You should also not go too long in between meals or skip meals.

  • Exercise

You should exercise for approximately 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Exercise lowers blood glucose levels, so it’s important to:

  • Exercise around the same time each day
  • Measure your blood glucose before and after exercising
  • Keep a source of sugar available while exercising such as glucose tablets or hard candy
  • Drink water and stay hydrated while exercising

Exercising is also important to help lose weight, which allows your body to manage blood glucose levels more effectively.

  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption

Nicotine can interfere with the functioning of insulin, which makes it more difficult to regulate glucose levels, so it’s highly recommended that people with diabetes quit smoking. Alcohol lowers blood sugar. Limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks a day for men, and 1 drink a day for women.

Diabetes does not have to take over your life. By taking the steps above and working with your physician, you can manage diabetes and live a normal, healthy life.