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Understanding Diabetes And How Your Family Can Support You

June 21, 2024

Understanding Diabetes And How Your Family Can Support You

When you have a chronic condition like diabetes, it’s natural that family members will want to be there for you. To help them understand how to best support you, try to learn what you can about diabetes. Then you can talk about it with your loved ones and share the type of support you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Understanding Diabetes Basics
What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the body can’t make insulin or does not use it well. Insulin is a hormone that helps our bodies use the energy from the glucose in the food we eat. Without insulin, glucose levels in the blood stream can become too high. When this happens, serious health problems can result such as nerve damage, heart disease, blindness, stroke, and kidney failure.
Types Of Diabetes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists three main types of diabetes.
  1. Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone but is typically diagnosed in children and young adults. If you have this type of diabetes, you produce very little insulin, or none at all, so you need to take insulin every day. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
  2. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body either makes too little insulin or doesn’t use it properly. With this type of diabetes, regular blood sugar testing is important as you may not notice any symptoms.
  3. Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes that appears during pregnancy. While GDM usually goes away after pregnancy, it can put women and their babies at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

If you have prediabetes, it means your blood glucose levels are higher than what is considered normal. While prediabetes is not a type of diabetes, is does mean you’re at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Learning about the risk factors for prediabetes and making lifestyle changes can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms Of Diabetes
It’s important to know the symptoms of diabetes that can occur. If you experience any of them, see your doctor about having your blood sugar tested. You could have diabetes if you:
  • Urinate a lot, often at night
  • Are very thirsty
  • Lose weight without trying
  • Are very hungry
  • Have blurry vision
  • Have numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Feel very tired
  • Have very dry skin
  • Have sores that heal slowly
  • Have more infections than usual

Asking For Support
Family members are an important source of support when you have diabetes. Start by letting them know your condition doesn’t have to stand in the way of an active life. By managing diabetes with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you can better control your blood sugar levels. You can ask your family for help with:

  • Eating healthy. Food that’s healthy for someone with diabetes is also healthy for everyone else. Try to eat more healthy meals together. Family-friendly diabetic recipes can include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein such as fish and poultry.
  • Exercising. Physical activity is important to staying healthy with diabetes. Having an exercise buddy can motivate you to get up and keep moving. Walking, jogging, swimming, and dancing all can be a part of this program — and can be more enjoyable as a family activity.
  • Recognizing warning signs. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can cause frequent urination, extreme thirst, blurry vision, and fatigue. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can cause fatigue, the inability to speak or think clearly, sweating, twitching, and passing out. A sudden drop in blood sugar can be especially dangerous. Ask your loved ones to keep a supply of sugary candy handy in case you show signs of hypoglycemia. They should also call for medical help if this occurs.
  • Quitting smoking. If you do smoke, quitting with the support and encouragement of family members will benefit you. They can help celebrate your progress, participate in activities with you to keep your mind off smoking, or just be there whenever you need to talk. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, when people quit smoking, the health benefits begin immediately.

Finding Care
Having regular doctor appointments can also help you better understand and manage diabetes. If you need help finding a doctor, select Find Care & Cost from the Care menu in the SydneySM Health app or visit You can also give us a call at the number on the back of your health plan ID card.

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