Diabetes overview

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Diabetes is a lifelong disease that cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.

Having diabetes means that your body is having problems using the energy from the foods that you eat. This energy comes from all foods including carbohydrates (starches and sugars), proteins and fat. After you eat, the food is turned into glucose that is used by your cells for fuel.

Blood glucose levels

It is important to remember that carbohydrates have the biggest effect on glucose levels. With diabetes, your body has trouble moving the glucose from your blood into your cells. This causes the glucose level in your blood to rise.

Keeping your blood glucose as close to normal as possible can help you feel better and give you more energy. Good control also helps you avoid problems with your eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.

Your health care team

You and your health care team will work together to find the best ways to control your diabetes. You are the key member of your team, which also includes your health care provider, nurse and specialists. Your team may also include a certified diabetes educator (CDE), dietitian, eye doctor, pharmacist, exercise specialist and others.

Your team members are available to help. If you have questions or concerns about your diabetes or about your health in general, it is important to call your clinic for help.

Making changes

You will be making changes throughout your life in order to manage your diabetes well. Only you can decide to make the changes.

Deciding what changes to make may seem overwhelming. Lasting changes are made by taking very small steps. You are not expected to change your whole life overnight.

It is not unusual to feel frustrated. Your health care team can help you as you deal with your feelings. They can also help you when you are planning to make changes.

It is important to know that you did not cause your diabetes. Our understanding of what causes diabetes is far from complete, but we do know certain facts. Your health care provider, nurse or diabetes educator will be glad to discuss these with you.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 10/23/2019