A type 2 diabetes diagnosis is overwhelming, to say the least. While many of us have a general idea of what the disease is, there are some concerning misconceptions. Fortunately, many resources and tips exist to help guide you through living with this sometimes-complicated condition.
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Your biggest immediate concern is monitoring your blood glucose levels. This essential part of managing your diabetes allows your doctor to see how your medication, diet, and exercise activity as a whole affect your blood sugar. With this knowledge, your medical team can make needed adjustments to your care plan.
To keep accurate records of your blood glucose levels, you should monitor your own blood sugar at home. You'll need:
- A blood glucose monitor and lancing device.
- Blood glucose test strips.
- Lancet (the needle used in the lancing device).
- Sharps container (this can be a hard plastic container, such as an empty bleach bottle).
Many of these items are expensive on their own. Consult with your doctor and your health insurance policy to see what can be prescribed and covered with an aim toward minimizing costs.
Not all patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes take insulin, and some don't need medication at all. Oral medications may be prescribed to help your pancreas create more insulin or slow the absorption of carbohydrates, two major sources of glucose production. Your doctor will determine what medications you need based partly on your body's glucose levels, but don't be afraid to ask questions about your medications, what they do, and if they can be covered by your insurance plan.
Diet and Exercise
Many newly diagnosed diabetes patients worry about not being able to eat their old favorite foods, but your doctor or dietitian can help you make a meal plan based on your prior diet. Moderation is key, and even if you don't have a guiding hand from your doctor, there are many websites, magazines, and cookbooks that base their recipes on diabetic diets.
While eating a healthy diet is important, combining it with regular exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy glucose level. Exercise helps burn calories and makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which helps your cells more easily absorb glucose from your bloodstream. Losing weight also helps your body better manage your blood sugar.
Recording your blood sugar levels helps you and your doctor see how your daily habits affect the glucose in your body. The more data you capture, the better you'll be able to make necessary changes with your doctor's input, so be sure to record blood sugar levels before and after meals, as well as what you eat and how often you exercise. There are many helpful smartphone apps, but a simple journal would work just fine. Ask your medical team what information they need to see in your journal to be sure you're making the most of it.
Diabetes Support and Classes
With so much to think about and many changes on the horizon, it's not easy to manage your diabetes all alone. Local hospitals often offer classes on several topics, such as how to maintain your blood glucose levels, how to use your blood sugar monitor, how to prepare meals for diabetics, and how to get the most out of exercise.
Support groups, hotlines, and friends and family should help make the transition to a new routine easier, and they can also offer a place to talk about your frustrations, share tips, and ask questions. When you think about the multifaceted support system you have at your fingertips, you'll feel much more ably equipped to take on diabetes.