Advice from a certified diabetes educator
"The most important thing for you to know is that there is help and support for the treatment of your diabetes." — Brigida Davila
Brigida Davila is a certified diabetes educator for the MLK Community Medical Group. In this brief interview, she talks about how to know if you are at risk of diabetes and what to do if you are diagnosed.
How do I know if I have prediabetes?
There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes; you may have it and not know it. Having prediabetes means you are having higher than normal levels of blood sugar that are not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. One way to find out is to get screened by your primary care doctor or at one of our Know Your Basics free screening events.
What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?
Some of the signs or symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, frequent urination, high level of blood sugar, severe weight loss, and excessive hunger. If you are having these signs or symptoms and you have some of the risk factors below, you should see a medical professional for diabetes screening.
Other things that are risk factors for diabetes include if you:
- Are overweight or obese
- Are age 45 or older
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- Have high blood pressure
- Have a low level of HDL ("good") cholesterol, or a high level of triglycerides
- Have a history of gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
- Are not physically active
- Have a history of heart disease or stroke
- Have depression
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
- Have acanthosis nigricans - dark, thick, and velvety skin around your neck or armpits
I have been diagnosed with diabetes. What is the most important thing for me to know or do now?
The most important thing for you to know is that there is help and support for the treatment of your diabetes. It is also important to have a primary care doctor who can work with you to treat your diabetes whether it is with medications or lifestyle changes. Your primary care provider can refer you to an endocrinologist (a medical doctor who specializes in diabetes) or a certified diabetes educator (a registered dietitian/nutritionist or nurse or pharmacist who specializes in diabetes education). They should all be part of your health care team.
Doctors and medicine can help, but the best person to keep you healthy is you! Taking good care of yourself, what we call self-management, can help you live a healthy, active and long life even if you are diagnosed with diabetes.
For example, it is very important to educate yourself about the condition. Take a diabetes class, read a diabetes book or visit science-based websites such as the American Diabetes Association or the Centers for Disease Prevention or the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to learn more about the condition and how it can be treated.
Diet, exercise, support are all important parts of diabetes care. Start a walking group, take a healthy cooking class, or join a support group - these are just a few of the things that can keep you on a healthy track. Ask your health team to connect you to resources in your community.