Some folks may still call diabetes“sugar.” But, there’s nothing sweet about being diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is a life-changing health condition that is a daily reality in the lives of nearly 24 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Simply put, a diabetic’s body doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes effectively.

For example, food is broken down into glucose (or sugar), which travels through the blood, moves into the cells and turns into fuel for your body. In people with diabetes, the glucose can’t move into the cells. This raises their blood glucose levels, which can cause such symptoms as blurry vision, thirstiness, and weakness. Left unchecked, high-glucose levels can lead to various forms of diabetes, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Is it a death sentence? It doesn’t have to be. Will it alter the way you live day-to-day? Yes. As a person with diabetes, you’ll have to learn how to check your blood sugar level and more than likely, you’ll need insulin shots or pills each day to control sudden highs (hyperglycemia) and sudden lows (hypoglycemia). You may also require other medicines to take care of related health conditions.

But, by making healthful food choices, exercising regularly and taking your medication properly, those with diabetes can potentially decrease their need for meds and live full, productive lives.

Left unmanaged, diabetes can bring on complications such as heart disease, problematic vision, kidney disease, stroke, nerve damage and loss of limbs. That’s why it’s critical to manage this disease. This “Manage Your Diabetes” tool is here to help you.

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