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There are a few things you can do to help manage your diabetes and live a healthier life. It's very important to take steps that will help prevent high blood sugar levels. This is most often achieved through a combination of:

  • Healthy eating
  • Exercise
  • Insulin therapy and/or diabetes medication, and
  • Routine blood sugar monitoring

Treatment Goals

Diabetes treatments aim to:

  • Lower high blood glucose levels
  • Manage blood pressure, cholesterol and other health issues
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and related deaths
  • Prevent problems such as nerve damage, high blood pressure, issues digesting food, or gum disease and others

The American Diabetes Association has set the following blood glucose targets for people with diabetes. Your health care team will work with you to set your personal blood glucose goals and map out a course of treatment that's best for you.

Target Blood Glucose Levels for Most People with Diabetes
Before Meals70 mg/dL to 130 mg/dL
1 to 2 Hours After Start of MealLess than 180 mg/dL

HbA1c/A1c is also used to give an average blood glucose level over the past three months. Target A1c for most people with diabetes should be less than 7%. Talk with your health care professional about your specific goal.

American Diabetes Association Guidelines
ResultA1c
NormalLess than 5.7%
Prediabetes5.7% to 6.4%
Diabetes6.5% or higher

Your treatment plan will likely include:

❱❱ Making healthier choices overall

  • Get regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet that is lower in salt, fat and refined carbohydrates; it's also helpful to meal plan, read labels and to learn how to substitute saturated and trans fats for healthier fats
  • Avoid cigarettes and alcohol

❱❱ Taking medications
Several medications are used to help control your blood sugar levels. The type of medicine you take—insulin therapy and/or diabetes medications—will depend on your type of diabetes, as well as other health conditions.

Some medications are given by mouth; others may be given by injection or by using an insulin pen or pump. Many people with diabetes take multiple medications. Some of the newer diabetes medications also have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and related deaths.

❱❱ Ongoing care and monitoring
Taking care of yourself, going to necessary medical appointments, getting lab tests, including a yearly urine test, and knowing your blood glucose number are all important to managing diabetes.

As mentioned, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active and eating a healthy diet are also key to controlling blood sugar levels and lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Talk with your doctor about:

❱❱ Checking your blood sugar level
Ask your care team how often you need to check and record your blood glucose, and if you should use a glucose meter at home. Knowing your glucose levels can help you and your doctor make decisions about your medicines, meals and exercise regimen.

If your glucose level is not where it should be, changes can be made to your treatment plan. Random blood sugar testing may also be done or recommended when you have symptoms.

❱❱ Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, if needed

❱❱ Knowing what to look for
Ask your doctor about possible complications from diabetes and what to watch for. For example:

  • Nerve damage (called diabetic neuropathy), which most often shows as a numbness, tingling or burning in your hands or feet
  • Eye problems such as blurry vision
  • Kidney issues
  • Cuts, blisters or sores on your feet
  • Heart disease and stroke

Call 911 if you have chest pain, fainting or shortness of breath.

❱❱ Getting immunizations
Ask your doctor about getting vaccinated to help prevent illnesses such as the flu, pneumococcal disease and shingles.

  • Last Edited 03/31/2019

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