Diabetes Patient Guide
Managing diabetes can be a little easier with support and helpful information from experts at Cedars-Sinai. Our doctors, diabetes nurse educators and other specialists are here for you. We develop a personalized diabetes care plan that reflects your medical needs and personal preferences.
You play a significant role in controlling your blood sugar levels. And you don't need to do it alone. We teach you how to take care of yourself and overcome common challenges so you can get the most out of treatment. Learn more about our diabetes outpatient treatment and education center.
Here are answers to common questions about managing diabetes:
Blood sugar levels change throughout the day. Tracking your blood sugar helps you know whether glucose levels are too high or low. And knowing as soon as possible helps you take steps to avoid complications.
For difficult-to-control diabetes, we may recommend continuous glucose monitoring. A sophisticated device tests your blood sugar every five minutes for 24 hours, providing a more precise assessment. Continuous glucose monitoring can help us determine whether we need to change the type or dose of insulin to better meet your needs.
Your ideal blood sugar level depends in part on how long it's been since you've eaten. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following levels for adults:
- Hemogloboin A1c: less than 7%
- Before a meal: less than 80 to 130 mg/dl
- Two hours after you eat: less than 180 mg/dl
Blood sugar targets are different for everyone. We recommend a range that's reasonable for your age and health history. And we stay in contact with you to see how your body responds to treatment. Our experts may adjust therapies or blood sugar targets as needed so you can feel your best.
Have 15 grams of carbohydrate to raise your blood sugar and check it after 15 minutes. If it's still below 70 mg/dL, have another serving.
Repeat these steps until your blood sugar is at least 70 mg/dL. Once your blood sugar is back to normal, eat a meal or snack to make sure it doesn't lower again.
This may be:
- Glucose tablets (see instructions)
- Gel tube (see instructions)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda (not diet)
- 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey or corn syrup
- Hard candies, jellybeans or gumdrops
Yes. Everything you eat affects your blood sugar. A diabetic diet helps you avoid spikes and crashes in blood sugar while lowering your risk of other health problems.
Guidelines that work for most people with diabetes include consuming:
- More fiber, 25 to 30 grams per day, which often includes whole grains and vegetables
- Fewer processed foods and items that are high in saturated fat, such as potato chips and frozen meals
- Sensible portion sizes and no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving
- Low-sodium foods, such as fresh fruit, and keeping your daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams or less
It can be challenging to know which foods help you stay within these guidelines. And if you have other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, a diabetic diet may look different for you. Our nutritionists and certified diabetes educators help you determine which foods to eat and which foods to avoid.
Yes. Statins are a safe way to lower your cholesterol, even if you have diabetes. A small number of people experience side effects, such as muscle aches and digestive problems. If you are one of them, our cardiologists adjust your dose or recommend a different type of statin so you can continue going about your daily life.
Diabetes can affect circulation in your feet, increasing your risk of diabetic foot problems, such as:
- Athlete's foot, an itchy rash that happens when your feet are sweaty for long periods of time
- Bunions, bony bumps near the big toe joint that cause pain and stiffness
- Diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage due to complications of diabetes
- Foot ulcers, open sores that do not heal
- Ingrown toenail, when the side edges of a nail push against the toe, causing pain and swelling in nearby skin
- Toenail fungus, an infection that sometimes causes discomfort
Checking your feet every day helps you detect diabetic foot problems in earlier stages when they're easier to treat. Tell your care team about any changes in your feet, including cracks, redness and numbness.