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Living well with diabetes

If you have diabetes, you're not alone. More than 100 million U. S. adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1, as of 2015:

  • 30.4 million Americans, 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes, and
  • 84.1 million have prediabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition. It can lead to big health problems when it isn't well-managed. But when you take charge, you can help yourself live a much healthier life.

Diabetes complications

The buildup of glucose in your blood can cause diabetes-related complications, and:

  • Cause plaque (fatty material) to narrow your blood vessels
  • Damage the lining of your blood vessels
  • Keep blood from freely moving through your blood vessels
  • Slow blood flow to vital tissues and organs

To reduce your risk of these diabetes-related complications, your doctor should, at least once a year, perform (and/or give you a):

  • Cholesterol profile test, to measure cholesterol (e.g., total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL) and triglycerides in your blood
  • Dental exam, every six to 12 months
  • Flu shot
  • HbA1c test, to measure your blood sugar over a three-month period
  • Kidney (blood) test, to check your glomerular filtration rate, which tells how well your kidneys filter
  • Kidney (urine) test, to check for a protein called Albumin, which can help detect kidney disease or nephropathy
  • Pneumonia shot, if suggested by your healthcare provider
  • Retinal or dilated eye exam, to help find glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and other eye conditions

If you have diabetes, you should:

  • Ask questions about your treatment plan
  • Avoid or quit smoking2
  • Check, monitor, and record your blood sugar levels at home
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, AND fewer animal products, refined carbohydrates, and sweets3
  • Get the right amount of sleep3
  • Limit salt and alcohol intake3
  • Manage stress
  • Reach and/or keep a healthy body weight
  • See your healthcare provider, who will check your blood pressure, weight, and feet
  • Share your blood sugar level records with your healthcare provider
  • Stay active3
  • Take medications (such as an oral medication or insulin) as prescribed

For more information, call our Disease Management Team at 1-800-229-9880 (TTY: 711), Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Eastern time.

To help our members with diabetes, our Care Managers may reach out by phone. Through our partnership with SafeLink, PDF opens new window, we make cellphones available to our members. These cellphones come with free data and call time each month. To learn more, or for help finding a doctor, call us at 1-800-611-1467 (TTY: 711).

We also can help you set up and get to your appointments. Learn more on our Transportation page.

Resources

  1. “More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html, opens new window. Last accessed August 17, 2020.
  2. National Library of Medicine – Medline Plus. www.MedlinePlus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000082.htm, opens new window. Last accessed February 12, 2020.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/health.html, opens new window. Last accessed February 12, 2020.

Further reading

Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/ART-20047963, opens new window. Accessed February 12, 2020.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes/4-steps, opens new window. Last accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

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