Your First Steps After Getting Your Diabetes Diagnosis

Apr 03, 2024
Your First Steps After Getting Your Diabetes Diagnosis
Learning that you have a chronic disease is disorienting, and it can take a little while to process the information and figure out what you need to do. A few first steps can set the stage for long-term success in managing type 2 diabetes.  

Unlike many other chronic diseases, type 2 diabetes management is in your hands. You need guidance from a trained medical professional, but lifestyle changes are often the key to living your healthiest and happiest life with diabetes. 

At Northeast Florida Internal Medicine, Elyssa Blissenbach, MD, and Lea-Anne Griffis, APRN, offer services such as weight loss management and internal medicine that are directly beneficial to patients with type 2 diabetes. Since the condition is so widespread — around 38 million Americans have type 2 diabetes — we want to provide some general guidance on what you should do after your diagnosis. 

Step 1: Learn about your condition

Understanding what causes type 2 diabetes and how it affects the body helps you determine which behaviors and habits will help and which will harm you.

Your pancreas produces a substance called insulin, which helps your cells use the energy (glucose) from food. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, use it efficiently, or both. That means your cells don’t get the energy they need, and glucose builds up in your bloodstream. 

Having too much glucose in your blood can cause problems, like damage to your blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular disease, or damage to your retina, leading to blindness. One of the reasons it’s so important to adjust your lifestyle when you have diabetes is to slow the progression of the damage or even avoid it altogether. 

Step 2: Get help 

Learning that you have a serious health condition can feel isolating, but you’re not alone.  Northeast Florida Internal Medicine professionals are here to offer guidance and advice. Organizations like the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and many others exist to help you navigate the disease.

Just as you have an array of tools to help you, you may also encounter a significant amount of misinformation. As you learn more about type 2 diabetes, keep a list of questions to discuss with your provider. One example is that many people think they should avoid all carbohydrates, but that’s not really practical or a good path to long-term health.

Your provider can help you understand how often you should check your blood sugar, what the medications you’re prescribed do, how exercise can help you feel better, and much more. Make sure you attend all of your appointments and be proactive in your care plan. 

Step 3: Consider your habits

Are you a tobacco user? If so, you already know that it’s not good for your health, so that may be an important lifestyle change. Similarly, if you’re overweight, reaching a healthy weight could be crucial for managing diabetes.

Understanding what a healthy diet looks like and designing a menu for yourself that meets your caloric needs, is aligned with your likes and dislikes, and fits into your life can be difficult. However, talking to your doctor, educating yourself about nutrition, and setting small, achievable goals makes the process much easier to integrate into your life, and the result is better overall health. 

Establishing a good exercise routine is similar. You can begin slowly and build up and find ways to incorporate movement throughout your regular activities. 

The benefits of having control

A type 2 diagnosis isn’t pleasant, but it’s good to know that you have some control. You are in charge of what you eat, whether or not you exercise, take your medication, and so on. It’s a good thing to have some agency when it comes to your health. 

If you have questions about your diagnosis or need advice on making the necessary changes, schedule an appointment at Northeast Florida Internal Medicine. We want to be your partner on the path to better health.