Q&A with a diabetes educator: 15 common questions answered

minute read
May 15, 2023
A diabetes educator discussing common diabetes questions with a type 2 diabetic.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - Yan Krukau.

As a certified diabetes educator, I connect and engage with a lot of diabetics and prediabetics. Diabetes can be overwhelming, and I’ve noticed there are common questions that circle around many people’s minds.

So I thought I’d provide some Q&As to help clear things up – Let’s have a discussion, and hopefully find some clarity together about diabetes.

Question 1: What is the normal blood sugar range?

When it comes to measuring your blood sugar level, a normal reading after fasting is anything at or below 99mg/dl. If your reading is 100-125mg/dl, it’s an indication you have prediabetes. And if your reading is 126mg/dl or higher, it means you have diabetes.

It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly, especially if you’re at risk of developing diabetes.

Question 2: What is prediabetes? Can it be treated?

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than usual but not quite at the level of being considered type 2 diabetes. But the good news is you do have the power to reverse it!

By making some simple lifestyle changes, you can prevent prediabetes from turning into type 2 diabetes.

Question 3: What are the early symptoms of diabetes?

It’s not unusual for people with diabetes to not experience any symptoms. However, common symptoms can include slow healing (in the event of a cut or injury), feeling constantly thirsty, needing to use the bathroom frequently, and feeling tired all the time. With type 2 diabetes, you might also experience hunger or blurred vision.

However, it’s important to remember that not everyone experiences symptoms. So getting checked regularly is crucial.

Question 4: Is diabetes a chronic disease?

Yes, diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Question 5: Can excessive stress cause diabetes?

Your ability to control your insulin and glucose level can be impacted by daily stress and anxiety, and excess stress can make your diabetes worse.

And even if you don’t have diabetes, anxiety can increase the risk of weight gain and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to hyperglycemia.

Question 6: Is diabetes controllable?

Although diabetes is a serious condition, it is manageable. People with diabetes need to take medication (even when they feel well), eat healthily, maintain a healthy weight, move more every day, and make healthy food choices. There’s lots to do, and while it’s difficult, it’s definitely worthwhile!

Question 7: What happens if a diabetic eats sugar?

If you have diabetes, too much sugar might harm your kidneys, which are crucial in purifying your blood. And after your blood sugar level reaches a specific level the kidneys will begin to discharge more sugar into your urine.

Question 8: What foods and drinks should I limit if I have diabetes?

If you have diabetes, you should avoid:

  • foods that are fried, as well as foods that are high in trans and saturated fat.
  • foods high in sodium (and salt).
  • goodies like ice cream, candy and baked pastries.
  • beverages with added sugar, including soda, sports and energy drinks, and juice.

Question 9: Is diabetes a genetic disorder?

Studies have shown that genetics play a significant part in the development of type 2 diabetes – Type 2 diabetes has a greater link to family history and ancestry than type 1 diabetes does.

Race is another factor, and so is your environment.

Question 10: How can you protect your heart from diabetes?

To protect your heart from diabetes, you should avoid trans fat as well as processed meals like fast food, candy and chips. Drink more water, and avoid sugary beverages and alcohol. Aim to maintain a healthy weight.

If you’re overweight, even a small amount of weight loss can help lower your blood sugar level and triglycerides.

Question 11: How can you protect your kidneys from diabetes?

To protect your kidneys from diabetes, you should consume less sodium/salt – That’s a smart approach for diabetes and crucial for people with chronic kidney disease.

This is because your kidneys lose the capacity to regulate your sodium-water balance over time, your blood pressure will drop, and you’ll experience less fluid retention.

Question 12: Can a diabetic patient live a long life?

Yes, by meeting their treatment goals people with diabetes can definitely live a long life. Some people with diabetes have even endured it for 7 or 8 decades!

It’s crucial to be aware of the dangers of having a chronic condition, but you also need to maintain hope.

Question 13: What are the major problems in diabetes?

The major problems of diabetes are heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and nerve damage, as well as issues with the feet, oral health, vision, hearing, and mental health.

Question 14: How to avoid diabetes?

You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with proven, achievable lifestyle changes – For example, losing weight and getting more physically active can reduce your chances of getting the disease, even if you’re at high risk.

Question 15: How many types of diabetes tests are there?

There are three main categories of diabetes tests – Blood tests, urine tests, and gestational tests.

These tests are recommended by a doctor for diagnosis, or as part of routine monitoring of blood sugar level.

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Ayesha Fatima

Ayesha Fatima is a certified diabetes educator. She helps people control their diabetes by advising how to achieve a healthy diet and lifestyle, and lower their blood glucose levels. She also helps ensure her patients possess the knowledge, abilities, and confidence needed to successfully manage their diabetes.

Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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