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Healthy living to keep your diabetes under control.

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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps sugar from food get into your cells to be used for energy.

If your body doesn’t have enough insulin, sugar will stay in your blood instead. This will raise your blood sugar level. Over time, this can cause diabetes. Having diabetes can raise your risk of heart disease, oral health problems, and depression.

If you have diabetes, the best way to manage it is to talk to your doctor or call your care manager. If you don’t have a doctor and need help finding one, call us at 866-833-5717.

Managing Your Diabetes

An A1C test measures your average blood sugar over a three-month period. Work with your doctor to set an A1C goal. Higher A1C numbers mean that your diabetes is not being managed well. Lower A1C numbers mean that your diabetes is being managed well.

You should get your A1C checked as often as your doctor suggests. Keep your blood sugar under control to help meet your A1C goal. This can also help you better manage your diabetes.

Some changes you can make to help are:

  • Lose weight if you need to.
  • Keep up a healthy weight.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get enough exercise.
  • Quit smoking.
    • If you need help to quit smoking, call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).

Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) Program

If you have diabetes, this may help you manage it. You’ll learn skills that will help, like how to eat healthy, check your blood sugar levels, and take medication. DSME programs are free to you with Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program). To find a program near you, visit

Diabetes and Heart Disease

Uncontrolled diabetes can harm your heart, nerves, blood vessels, kidneys, and eyes. It can also cause high blood pressure and clogged arteries. This may make your heart work harder, which raises your risk of heart disease or stroke.

With diabetes, you are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease or stroke. But there are steps you can take to help lower your risk. Make sure your doctor checks your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly.

You may also need to make lifestyle changes. This means things like eating healthier, exercising, and quitting smoking. Talk to your doctor about the best way to make these changes.

Your doctor can also help make sure you get any tests or medication you need to help lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.

Diabetes and Oral Health Problems

Diabetes can raise your risk of oral health problems. This includes gum disease, thrush, and dry mouth. Serious gum disease can make it tough to control your blood sugar. High blood sugar can also cause gum disease. Sugar helps harmful bacteria grow. Sugar can mix with food to form a sticky film called plaque. Plaque can cause tooth decay and cavities.

Some signs and symptoms of oral health problems are:

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Dry mouth
  • Pain
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty chewing

Make sure you’re seeing your dentist at least twice a year. If you have diabetes, you may need to see your dentist more often. At your visit, tell your dentist that you have diabetes. Let them know what medications you take, and, if you take insulin, when your last dose was.

You should also tell your dentist if you’ve been having trouble managing your blood sugar. They may want to talk to your doctor.

Diabetes and Depression

If you have diabetes, you also have a higher risk of depression. Depression can feel like sadness that won’t go away. It affects your ability to carry on with normal life or your daily activities. Depression is a serious medical illness with physical and mental health symptoms.

Depression can also make it harder to manage your diabetes. It can be hard to stay active, eat healthy, and stay current with routine blood sugar testing if you’re depressed. This can all affect your blood sugar levels.

Signs and symptoms of depression may include:

  • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Feeling irritable, anxious, nervous, or short-tempered.
  • Problems focusing, learning, or making decisions.
  • Changes in your sleep patterns.
  • Feeling tired all the time.
  • Changes in your appetite.
  • Feeling worthless, helpless, or worrying that you’re a burden to others.
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself.
  • Aches, pains, headaches, or digestive problems that have no clear physical cause or don’t get better with treatment.

Treating Depression

If you have been feeling any of these signs or symptoms for two weeks or more, please see your doctor. They can help you rule out a physical cause for your symptoms, or help you understand if you have depression.

If you have depression, your doctor may be able to help treat it. Or they can refer you to a mental health professional who understands diabetes. This person can help you find ways to relieve your depression. This can involve counseling or medication, like an antidepressant. Your doctor will work with you to find the best treatment.