What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a problem with how your body uses sugar and makes insulin. Almost everything we eat and drink is changed into sugar (glucose). Sugar is an important source of energy. Your body needs insulin to move sugar from the bloodstream into tissues so it can be used as energy or stored for later use. People with diabetes don’t make enough insulin or the insulin does not work right.

Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood. You may feel tired, be very thirsty, lose weight, have many infections, urinate frequently or have slow wound healing. Treatment of diabetes is aimed at keeping your blood sugar under control.

What should I do?

  1. It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions. This may prevent or delay damage to your heart, kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and nerves.
  2. Your doctor has prescribed medicine for your diabetes. It is very important to take it exactly as directed. Don’t stop taking this medicine without talking to your doctor first.
  3. Test your urine or blood for sugar (glucose).
  4. Exercise regularly. Your doctor will give you instructions about exercise.
  5. Eat wholesome, balanced meals. Eat frequently and at regular, fixed times (three meals a day, plus two or three snacks) Your doctor or nutritionist will give you a special diet to guide your sugar intake.
  6. Your doctor may advise you to lose weight. Losing as little as 10 to 15 pounds may help improve your blood sugar levels.
  7. You will need to wear a medic-alert pendant or bracelet saying that you are a diabetic.
  8. Learn about your disease and about the signs of hypoglycemia and ketoacidosis (see below)

Call your doctor if:

  1. You have any questions about medicine, activity or diet.
  2. You continue to have symptoms of diabetes (such as increased thirst or urination or weight gain).

Return to the doctor IMMEDIATELY if:

  1. You can’t think clearly, are very weak, sweating, pale, have a fast heartbeat, seizures or cannot be awakened. These may be symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  2. You are vomiting or have diarrhea.
  3. Your breath smells like oranges, you are breathing faster or slower, and are very sleepy. These may be symptoms of ketoacidosis.
  4. You have numbness, tingling, or pain in your feet or hands.
  5. You have chest pain.
  6. Your symptoms get worse, even though you are following your doctor’s orders.
Mission Health Care Network | 2525 de Sales Avenue | Chattanooga, TN 37404 | MissionHealth@memorial.org
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