Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your diabetes under control
Will I have diabetes problems?
Maybe. You may have one or more diabetes problems or none at all. If you get diabetes when you are young, you may not have diabetes problems for many years. If you find out you have diabetes as an adult, you may already have diabetes problems. Either way, keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control can prevent diabetes problems.
What should my blood glucose numbers be?
Keeping your blood glucose on target can prevent or delay diabetes problems. The chart below shows target blood glucose levels for most people with diabetes.
Talk with your health care provider about what your blood glucose numbers should be. Print this document and write them in this chart.
Talk with your health care provider about when you need to check your blood glucose using a blood glucose meter. You will do the checks yourself. Your health care provider can teach you how to use your meter.
Keep track of your blood glucose checks using the record page. Make copies yourself or ask your health care provider for a blood glucose record book. Your blood glucose check results will help you and your health care provider make a plan for keeping your blood glucose under control. Always bring your record book to your doctor visits so you can talk about reaching your glucose goals.
How can I find out what my average blood glucose is?
Ask your health care provider for the A1C test. This blood test shows the average amount of glucose in your blood during the past 2 to 3 months. Have this test done at least twice a year. If your A1C result is not on target, your health care provider may do this test more often to see if your result is improving as your treatment changes. Your A1C result plus your blood glucose meter results can show whether your blood glucose is under control.
The A1C target for most people with diabetes is below 7 percent. Ask your health care provider if this target is right for you. Print and write your A1C target here:
If your A1C test result is on target, then your blood glucose is in a desirable range and your diabetes treatment plan is working. The lower your A1C is, the lower your chance of having health problems.
If your result is too high, you may need a change in your diabetes plan. Your health care team can help you decide what part of your plan to change. You may need to change your meal plan, your diabetes medicines, or your physical activity plan.
What should my blood pressure be?
Normal blood pressure will help prevent damage to your eyes, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels. Blood pressure is written with two numbers separated by a slash. For example, 120/70 is said as "120 over 70." The first number should be below 130 and the second number should be below 80. Keep your blood pressure as close to these numbers as you can. If you already have kidney disease, ask your doctor what numbers are best for you.
Meal planning, medicines, and physical activity can help you reach your blood pressure target.
What should my cholesterol be?
Normal cholesterol and blood fat levels will help prevent heart disease and stroke, the biggest health problems for people with diabetes. Keeping cholesterol levels under control can also help with blood flow. Have your blood fat levels checked at least once a year. Meal planning, physical activity, and medicines can help you reach your blood fat targets:
What does smoking have to do with diabetes problems?
Smoking and diabetes are a dangerous combination. Smoking raises your risk for diabetes problems. If you quit smoking, you'll lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, nerve disease, and kidney disease. Your cholesterol and your blood pressure levels may improve. Your blood circulation will also improve.
If you smoke, ask your health care provider for help in quitting.
What else can I do to prevent diabetes problems
You can do many things to prevent diabetes problems. For example, to keep your feet healthy, check them each day. Ask your health care team whether you should take a low-dose aspirin every day to lower your risk for heart disease. To keep your eyes healthy, visit an eye care professional once a year for a complete eye examination that includes using drops in your eyes to dilate the pupils.
Make sure your doctor checks your urine for protein every year. At least once a year, your blood creatinine level should be checked. Also once a year, your health care provider should do a complete foot exam. See Things to Do Every Day for Good Diabetes Care for what you can do each day to stay healthy with diabetes. See Things for Your Health Care Provider to Look at Every Time You Have a Checkup for other things to check for good diabetes care.
Things to Check for Good Diabetes Care
Taking care of diabetes is a team effort between you and your health care team-doctor, diabetes nurse educator, diabetes dietitian educator, pharmacist, and others. You are the most important member of the team.
Take charge of your diabetes by learning what to do for good diabetes care:
Keep a daily record of blood glucose check results. Make copies of the Daily Diabetes Record. This information will help you see whether you are reaching your blood glucose goals.
You can prevent or slow down diabetes problems by reaching your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals most of the time.
Things to Do Every Day for Good Diabetes Care
Things for Your Health Care Provider to Look at Every Time You Have a Checkup
Things for You or Your Health Care Provider to Do at Least Once or Twice a Year
How to Use the Daily Diabetes Record Page
Use copies of the record page to keep track of blood glucose checks, medicines, and notes about things that affect your blood glucose. Make one copy of the record page for each week. This record will help you see whether your diabetes plan is working. Review your record with your health care provider.
Blood Glucose Checks
Talk with your health care provider and decide on the best times to check blood glucose. You may be checking blood glucose before meals, after meals, or at bedtime. Write when to check here:
___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________
If needed, draw a line in the boxes under "Breakfast," "Lunch," and "Dinner" to make room for blood glucose check results before and after a meal, like this example:
See What should my blood glucose numbers be? for information about target blood glucose levels.
Under the heading marked "Medicine," write the names of your diabetes medicines and the amounts taken.
Write down things that affect your blood glucose level. Some examples are
My Health Care Team Members
For More Information
Diabetes Teachers (nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and other health professionals)
To get more information about taking care of diabetes, contact
More in the Series
The "Prevent Diabetes Problems" Series includes seven booklets that can help you learn more about how to prevent diabetes problems.
For free single copies of these booklets, write, call, fax, or email the
These booklets are also available at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov on the Internet.
The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse thanks the people who helped review or field-test this publication.
For the American Association of Diabetes Educators
For the American Diabetes Association
For the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
For the Diabetes Research and Training Centers
Indiana University School of Medicine
VA/JDF Diabetes Research Center
For the Grady Health System Diabetes Clinic
For the Indian Health Service
Red Lake, MN
For the Medlantic Research Center
For Texas Diabetes Council
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 1978, the Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes to people with diabetes and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. The NDIC answers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, and works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government agencies to coordinate resources about diabetes.
This publication is not copyrighted. The Clearinghouse encourages users of this publication to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.
NIH Publication No. 08-4349