1. Keep in Mind: You're Among Millions
Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26 million Americans live with diabetes. Around the world, according to the International Diabetes Federation, the number hovers in excess of 350 million with an expected rise to a half-billion by 2030. So you are hardly alone!
And with millions of people dealing with diabetes and more health experts searching for ways to improve care, diabetes is constantly in the news spotlight. Read trusted and reliable sources. Don't trust quick fixes and magic potions.
2. Celebrate the Robust Level of Diabetes Research
Two realities fuel the flames of interest in and funding for diabetes research: the epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the increase in people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. For-profit businesses and nonprofit diabetes-related associations work at breakneck speed to get the latest and greatest developments to market. This includes both finding cures in the distant future and zeroing in on new treatments and technologies just around the corner.
Promising technologies -- from making glucose monitoring and tracking easier and quicker to improved insulin-delivery devices -- are not far off. More new medications to lower blood glucose and delay the complications of diabetes are being developed than ever in history. Researchers developing the new medications are targeting less frequent dosing, minimizing low blood glucose, and assisting with weight loss.
3. Make Small Changes for BIG Rewards
There is no need to hit the pavement running or go on a rigid diet to manage your diabetes. Research shows that the key to controlling type 2 diabetes is losing 10-20 pounds (5-7 percent of your body weight) and keeping those pounds at bay. In fact, losing just a few pounds, eating healthier, and walking a few times a week can cause blood glucose to plummet if you've caught type 2 early enough. Losing a few pounds can also lower blood pressure, improve blood lipids, and help a host of other health problems, such as sleep apnea.
Realize that changing your lifelong eating and lifestyle habits is tough work. Set a few easy-to-accomplish goals to start. Experience success, then set a few other goals. Over time you'll be amazed by the changes you've made.
4. Partner with Your Provider
Diabetes is a 24/7/365 disease that requires continual treatment tweaking over the years. While you need to stay in the driver's seat for your day-to-day management, you'll want a health care provider who will work side by side as a partner in your efforts. Your provider should constantly strive to help you fine-tune your treatment to achieve your glucose, lipid, and blood-pressure goals. Search out a knowledgeable and up-to-date provider, one who knows and uses the new medications, technologies, and behavior-change strategies. Make sure your provider knows the American Diabetes Association Standards of Care and orders the tests and checks you need to prevent or detect diabetes complications.
5. Find a Diabetes Educator
Why do you need to link up with a certified diabetes educator? Diabetes educators can help you learn about diabetes -- and specifically, your diabetes. They can help you set goals for behavior change, understand the meaning of your glucose results, and advocate for you with your other providers. Maybe most important of all, your diabetes educator can serve as your cheerleader or shoulder to cry on.
These days you'll most likely find diabetes educators in hospital-based diabetes education programs. But diabetes educators are becoming more common in primary care and family practice offices, pharmacies, and even the aisles of your local supermarkets. Some educators use an online presence to offer diabetes coaching and weight management programs.
Ask your provider for a referral for diabetes education. Medicare and private health insurance plans generally cover diabetes education.