Just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Help is here.
So you just got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Maybe this came out of the blue, or perhaps you had a sneaking suspicion. Either way, you need a path forward.
Learning what to do is extremely important because people with diabetes usually manage their own daily care. A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can feel scary and overwhelming, but remember: You don’t have to navigate this journey alone. You’ll have a whole care team behind you, along with access to resources and support from Blue Shield. What’s even better is that you can usually access these services and features at no additional cost.
Let’s answer some of your most common questions.
What is type 2 diabetes?
People with type 2 diabetes have trouble regulating their blood sugar levels. That’s because their body can’t use insulin the right way. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps cells absorb blood sugar for energy. Over time, the pancreas can’t produce enough to keep up, and blood sugar levels rise.
If it’s left untreated, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves. It can also interfere with the ability to fight infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.
More than 34 million Americans have diabetes, and about 90% to 95% of them have type 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Who will tell me exactly what I need to do now?
You’ll most likely get guidance from your primary healthcare provider. You may also be connected with an endocrinologist who specializes in treating people with diabetes. Your providers will work with you to create a treatment plan and then adjust it as needed. Every person’s body chemistry is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
Can I keep my condition in check with diet and exercise? Or do I need to take medications?
For some people, a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity, and losing some weight might be enough to keep their blood sugar in range.
But many people with type 2 diabetes do need medication along with healthier habits to help manage their blood sugar levels. Your providers will help you find the right medication for you, if necessary.
One thing you probably won’t have to stress about? Following a super restricted diet. In fact, following a healthy, balanced diet is recommended. “People with diabetes can eat the same foods that someone without diabetes can eat,” says Kirsten Ward. She’s a certified diabetes care and education specialist. “The caveat is that all people, regardless of diabetes, should eat well-balanced meals with plenty of vegetables and fruits.”
Even if you think you’re a pretty healthy eater, it’s smart to meet with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator after a diabetes diagnosis. They can review your habits and help you get (or stay) on track. You can also check out the resources from Blue Shield below.
What about testing my blood sugar?
Regularly checking – and tracking – blood sugar levels is one of the most important things people with diabetes can do. It can help people learn how different foods and types of exercise impact blood sugar. Seeing patterns can help you decide when and what to eat, and when to work out. Ask your healthcare provider for guidance on how often to test.
You can choose from many types of blood sugar meters. Your healthcare provider can go over options with you and show you how to use it. Depending on your plan, you may be eligible to receive a discounted meter and testing supplies. To learn more, call the customer service number on your Blue Shield member ID card.
What’s my A1C, and why do I need to know it?
An A1C blood test measures average blood sugar levels over the past three months. In general, the goal is to keep A1C under 7%, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Higher A1Cs are linked to diabetes complications, so knowing the number is important for you and your healthcare team. You’ll likely have an A1C test at least twice a year.
How can Blue Shield help me with my diabetes?
Dealing with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can feel like a lot. We get it. We’re here for you. Here’s how:
1. Sign up for a diabetes treatment program. Virta® is a program designed to treat diabetes and is available to eligible members at no additional cost. People who join get support to lower their A1C, lose weight, and even lower or eliminate the need for diabetes medications. With Virta, you can get a dedicated health coach and nutrition plan that’s tailored to your tastes and lifestyle. No calorie counting or exercise required. Plus, the app makes tracking blood sugar and weight easy.
2. Tap into your benefits. Your plan may also provide extra diabetes support. Call the customer service number on your Blue Shield member ID card. You’ll be able to review all your benefits. Ask about:
- Diabetes supplies and medications covered in your plan.
- Our Care Management program for diabetes. You’ll have access to a dedicated care manager, educational resources, and an expert care team for any questions that pop up.
3. Take care of your emotional life. If you need extra mental health support, you may have access to the mindfulness and meditation app Headspace via Wellvolution®. You may also be able to access Ginger, an online platform that can connect you to a mental health professional almost instantly. Get started now.
5. Get the helping hand to quit smoking for good. Smoking makes diabetes harder to manage, and it can increase the risk of serious complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. For help quitting, check out these free digital resources from Wellvolution, including the EX Program, which is backed by experts from the Mayo Clinic.
You’re about to start a brand-new journey, and we’re here to help you be as healthy as you can be – every step of the way.