Living with diabetes may be challenging, but you don't have to go it alone. UnityPoint Health is committed to helping you live well with diabetes by providing coordinated care through education, coaching and support.
Importance of Diabetes Education
Diabetes Education helps people with or at risk for diabetes gain the skills and knowledge needed to change their behavior and successfully manage diabetes and its related conditions. With so much misinformation available about how to manage diabetes, it is important to partner with an expert to help you navigate the disease.
That is why our diabetes educators will team with you, your support caregiver and your provider to optimize your diabetes control while in our care. To meet your needs, Diabetes Education is provided through group classes or individual sessions.
7 Behavior Changes to Improve Quality of Life
People with diabetes or prediabetes can often improve their quality of life by changing their behavior. The American Association of Diabetes Educators points to these seven key self-care behaviors:
- Being active
- Taking medication
- Problem solving
- Healthy coping
- Reducing risks
Your healthcare team will help you learn what to do to live well with Diabetes. Your team members include your doctor, nurse, care coordinator, social worker, dietitian and pharmacist. Your team members may also include nurses and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES); these team members have experience educating people with diabetes and have passed an examination to become certified. They work with you as your teacher, coach and counselor.
Care at Home
Home care nurses work with patients to develop a plan for diabetes management that allows for a healthier and more fulfilling life. UnityPoint at Home serves as an extension of your healthcare team in your home. Home care helps patients like you:
Coordinate care with your provider and care team
- Reach your health goals with care centered on you
- Review your medications and help you understand how to take them
- Understand how to manage your diet, medications and exercise
- Avoid hospitalizations and emergency room visits
- More easily access wound nurse experts for diabetic foot and wound issues
- Monitor and manage symptoms
Types of Diabetes
Prediabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to diagnose Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes. The prediabetes class focuses on healthy eating and being active.
Fasting blood sugar:
Learn more about prediabetes in our Diabetes Health Library.
- Normal: less than 100
- Pre-diabetes: 100-125
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood but can occur in adults. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin -- a hormone needed to turn starches, sugars and other food into energy the body can use. People cannot live without insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the pancreas and kills the cells that make insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is treated with healthy eating, physical activity and insulin. A person with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day.
Learn more about Type 1 diabetes in our Diabetes Health Library.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when:
- Fasting blood sugar is 126 or higher
- Glucose tolerance test is 200 or higher
- A1c is 6.5 percent or higher. (The A1c is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar over about three months.)
If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't use insulin correctly. This is called insulin resistance. Over time, your pancreas can't make enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance and blood sugar gets too high.
Type 2 diabetes is life-long. There is no cure, but there are things you can do to control your blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar in a healthy range will help prevent, reduce or delay other health problems caused by diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by having family members with Type 2 diabetes, being overweight, being physically inactive, being a member of certain ethnic groups (African-American, Latin-American, Native American, Asian, Native Alaskan, Native Pacific Islander) or for no reason at all. Type 2 diabetes is most commonly found in adults, but children may also be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is treated with healthy eating, physical activity and oftentimes insulin.
Learn more about Type 2 diabetes in our Diabetes Health Library.
Gestational diabetes is a form of Type 2 diabetes, and it may begin between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. All women become resistant to the action of insulin late in pregnancy. Women who have gestational diabetes are not able to produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance and blood sugar goes too high. If blood sugar is too high during pregnancy, it can cause several problems:
- Large baby and difficult delivery with risk of injury to mother or baby
- Premature birth and under-developed lungs or liver if baby gets too big
- Low blood sugar in the baby after birth
Increased risk for childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes as an adult
Gestational diabetes is treated with healthy eating, physical activity and sometimes medicine, including insulin.
Learn more about gestational diabetes in our Diabetes Health Library.
Advanced Treatment Options
Insulin Pump Therapy
An insulin pump continuously delivers fast-acting insulin in the fat tissue beneath the skin. People with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes may use an insulin pump. The insulin is delivered through a small tube under the skin.
Benefits of pumping insulin:
- Delivers insulin to mimic the human pancreas as closely as possible
- The background insulin delivery rate can be adjusted throughout the day
- Fewer pokes through the skin
- Flexible dosing for differing lifestyles
Drawbacks of pumping insulin:
- Pump is attached to you nearly all the time
- If insulin delivery stops, you may become very ill
- It takes time and patience to learn how to effectively use pump
- Pumping can be expensive
Get help comparing your options in our Diabetes Health Library.
Continuous Glucose Monitors
Continuous glucose monitors (sensors) detect the sugar in the fluid between your body cells (interstitial fluid) instead of in the blood. Sugar is detected continuously and reported to the receiver frequently. The main benefit of using a sensor is that it tells your current reading as well as if sugar is going up or down and how fast. If you know the direction of your sugar, you can take action to prevent a low or severe high.
The sugar reading is sent to a receiver. Some sensors use an insulin pump as the receiver while other sensors come with a separate receiver. You don't have to use an insulin pump to use a sensor, but if you use a sensor, you still must check your blood sugar by finger-stick for any decisions about your insulin dose, if you feel low, and to calibrate the sensor.
Diabetes Information and Resources
There are several online resources for patients managing diabetes and their families. Below are some resources that may be helpful:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes
These instructions are for general information. Please consult your doctor or diabetes educator for your personal instructions.