Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.
If you have diabetes, no matter what type, it means you have too much glucose in your blood, although the reasons may differ. Too much glucose can lead to serious health problems.
Treatment for type 2 diabetes requires a lifelong commitment to:
- Blood sugar monitoring
- Healthy eating
- Regular exercise
- Possibly, diabetes medication or insulin therapy
These steps will help keep your blood sugar level closer to normal, which can delay or prevent complications.
Monitoring your blood sugar
Depending on your treatment plan, you may check and record your blood sugar level once a day or several times a week. Ask your doctor how often he or she wants you to check your blood sugar. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range.
Even if you eat on a rigid schedule, the amount of sugar in your blood can change unpredictably. With help from your diabetes treatment team, you’ll learn how your blood sugar level changes in response to:
Food. What and how much you eat will affect your blood sugar level. Blood sugar is typically highest one to two hours after a meal.
Physical activity. Physical activity moves sugar from your blood into your cells. The more active you are, the lower your blood sugar level.
Medication. Any medications you take may affect your blood sugar level, sometimes requiring changes in your diabetes treatment plan.
Illness. During a cold or other illness, your body will produce hormones that raise your blood sugar level.
Alcohol. Alcohol and the substances you use to make mixed drinks can cause either high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and whether you eat at the same time.