All About Diabetes

Diabetes Home

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes means your blood has too much sugar called glucose. This happens because your body does not make enough of a hormone called insulin or because your body doesn’t respond well to insulin.

Where does insulin come from?

Insulin is a hormone that is made by cells in your pancreas.

Where does glucose in my blood come from?

Your body changes much of the food you eat into sugar called glucose. Glucose travels in the blood to all cells in your body. Your body’s cells need glucose to function and give you energy.

How does glucose go into my cells?

The glucose goes from your blood into your cells with the help of insulin. Without insulin, your cells cannot get the glucose they need. Our body’s cells need this glucose to give them energy to function. By moving glucose from your blood to your body’s cells, insulin helps to keep your blood glucose level normal (not too high or too low). When you do not have enough insulin or your cells don’t respond well to insulin to normalize your blood glucose, you have diabetes.

What happens if my blood glucose remains high and uncontrolled?

You can suffer the complications of diabetes that come from your blood glucose being high over a long period of time. High blood glucose can  damage the smallest blood vessels and nerves in your body. This happens slowly and irreversibly over time without many symptoms until the symptoms are severe. These complications and symptoms can include:

  • Cardiovascular disease:
    Heart disease or stroke
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA):
    Can lead to a diabetic coma or death due to high blood glucose
  • Eyes:
    Cataracts, glaucoma, disorders to the retina, blindness
  • Foot complications:
    Nerve damage, calluses, foot ulcers, poor circulation, amputation
  • Kidney disease:
    Chronic kidney disease, kidney failure
  • Mental health:
    Stress, sadness, anger, denial, depression
  • Skin infections:
    Sty’s, boils, athlete’s foot, ringworm

A1C

What’s my A1C?

You do not have to be fasting to get this test done. The A1C is a blood test by finger stick or blood draw that shows:

  • Your average blood glucose level for the last 3 months
  • Your risk (chance) of having health problems because of diabetes
  • How your diabetes plan is going
  • How your food choices are affecting the control of your blood glucose

Why do I need it?

Your A1C test results are one of the best ways to know if your blood glucose is under good control.

What is a good A1C number?

7% or lower is the goal level in patients with diabetes to reduce the likelihood of long term complications.

How does the A1C correspond to my blood glucose?

Each A1C value corresponds to a certain range of blood glucose. At the value of 7% or lower your blood glucoseare well controlled. The higher your A1C, the higher your blood glucose values and the more poorly controlled your diabetes is.

High Blood Glucose (Sugar)

Hyperglycemia

What is a normal blood glucose:
Before a meal goal 80-130
1-2 hours after food blood glucose goal < 180

High blood glucose is when there is too much glucose in your blood.
High blood glucose can happen if you:

  • Skip a dose of insulin or diabetes pills
  • Eat more than usual
  • Do less exercise than usual
  • Are stressed or are sick

Here’s what you may feel if your blood glucose is too high:

  • Very thirsty
  • Very hungry even though you are eating well
  • Cuts or bruises that heal slowly
  • Blurry vision
  • Exhaustion
  • Need to pee more often
  • Dry skin

Low Blood Glucose (Sugar)

Hypoglycemia

What is a normal blood glucose:
Before a meal goal 80-130
1-2 hours after food blood glucose < 180

Low blood glucose is when there is too little glucose in your blood.
Low blood glucose can happen if you:

  • Take certain medicines and eat too little carbohydrates/starches/grains, or skip a meal
  • Take too much insulin or too many diabetes pills or take diabetes pills without food
  • Are more physically active than usual

What should I eat if my blood glucose is low?

  • Follow the 15/15 rule – eat 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate and wait 15 minutes
    – 3 glucose tablets or 1 tube of glucose gel
    – ½ cup or 4 ounces of fruit juice
    – ½ can or 6 ounces of regular soda
    – 7-8 gummy or hard candy life savers
    – 1 tablespoon of sugar or jelly

Here’s what you may feel if your blood glucose is too low:

  • Anxious
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Hunger or nausea
  • Impaired vision
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Weakness