University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

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Publication #FCS8575

Healthy Living: Diabetes1

Linda B. Bobroff and Paulina Wittkowsky2

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body has difficulty making or using insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in our blood. When the body cannot make or use insulin properly, the result is high blood glucose. Controlling blood glucose reduces risk of health complications.

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Health Complications of High Blood Glucose

Having high blood glucose over a long time can result in vision loss or blindness; high blood pressure and heart disease; damage to blood vessels and nerves, like those in your hands and feet; and, damage to the kidneys.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Visit your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • a need to urinate often (even at night)

  • constant thirst or hunger

  • weight loss that cannot be explained

  • dry or itchy skin

  • skin infections

  • slow healing of cuts

  • numbness or tingling in feet or hands

  • blurry vision

Can diabetes be cured?

In most diabetes cases, there is no cure. But, diabetes can be controlled with an appropriate treatment plan. Some people control their diabetes with a proper diet and regular exercise. Others may also need oral diabetes medication or insulin injections.

How do I manage my diabetes?

  • Monitor your blood glucose.

  • Be physically active every day.

  • Follow a healthy diet, including eating less fat, sweets, and sodium, and choosing foods with fiber.*

  • Have your eyes, urine, blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood lipids (fats) checked regularly.

  • Have a health professional check your feet at least once a year; check them yourself every day.

  • Have your teeth cleaned at least twice a year.

  • Don't smoke.

*If you have diabetes, a registered dietitian (RD) can design a diet plan that is right for you.

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La versión en español de este documento es Vida Saludable: Diabetes (FCS8575-Span). This document is FCS8575, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. This leaflet was originally developed with funding from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, in partnership with state, county, and local agencies. First published: March 2000. Revised May 2013. Visit the EDIS website at


Linda B. Bobroff, PhD, RD, LD/N, professor, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, and Paulina Wittkowsky, MS, RD, formerly with the University of Florida; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.