Take a Guess: What Are the Most-Asked Questions about Diabetes?

Q&AWhat happens when you dial 1-800-DIABETES?

That’s the toll-free number for the American Diabetes Association’s Center for Information and Community Support, where representatives are standing by to answer your questions about diabetes and Association programs and events. The Center responds to more than 300,000 inquiries annually by phone, email and online chat. We’re proud to be a source of trusted information and support.

While every person who contacts us has a unique situation, we do see patterns among the questions that we get every day. So I thought I’d round up some of the most popular questions and answers—because, chances are, they have crossed your mind too.

 

I checked my blood glucose with someone else’s machine and got 170. Do I have diabetes?

Home glucose meters cannot be used to diagnose diabetes. You must have a diagnostic test ordered by a doctor and performed in a laboratory with special reagents to determine whether you have diabetes. Anyone concerned that they might have diabetes should consult their physician or health care provider.

Are commercial diet plans (such as Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc.) good for a person with diabetes?

The Association does not distribute diets based on calories or endorse any commercial diet plans. However, healthful eating is a big part of a good diabetes treatment plan. Individuals should speak with a qualified nutritionist, dietitian or certified diabetes educator (CDE) to help determine if a diet is right for them. That said, the best diet is often one that achieves your desired results and that you can stick with.

How many carbohydrates can I have in a day?

A place to start is 45 grams of carbohydrate at a meal. You may need more or less depending on how you manage your diabetes. Your health care team can help figure out the right amount for you. Once you know how many carbs to eat at a meal, choose your food and the portion size to match.

What’s the best artificial sweetener?

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the following artificial sweeteners: Saccharin, Aspartame (NutraSweet), Acesulfame-K (Sweet One) and Sucralose (Splenda.) The Association accepts the FDA’s conclusion that these sweeteners are safe and does not recommend one over the others.

Can insurance companies turn me down?

The federal health care reform legislation that became law in March 2010 includes many new tools in the fight to stop diabetes. Once the provisions are fully in place, people with diabetes can no longer be denied insurance or forced to pay more for coverage simply because they have diabetes. Insurance companies will not be allowed to limit benefits or drop coverage when a person needs health care most. A diabetes diagnosis will no longer be a lawful reason to deny health care, ending the current system that sanctions such discrimination.

I don’t have insurance but need to see a doctor/dentist/eye specialist. Can you help me?

The Association does not offer direct financial assistance or medical care, but we can refer you to programs that may help. For specific information on programs available in your area, please contact the Center via email or phone. Our representatives can also direct you to resources for free and low-cost eye and dental care.

My child’s school has a nurse who travels to different schools and isn’t always there. Aren’t they supposed to have a nurse available all day?

Federal law provides the same protection to students with diabetes in all states. However, state laws and regulations determine who in the school setting is allowed to perform or assist with diabetes care. Families, health care providers and school staff must be familiar with these laws and regulations in order to create a comprehensive school care plan.

If you are facing challenges with your child’s diabetes management at school, call the Center for Information and Community Support to be connected with the resources you need, such as our Safe at School program.

What do I need to do when traveling to a different country?

You can go anywhere and do almost anything when you have diabetes—it just takes a little planning. Before you travel, you should:

  • Have a medical exam to make sure your diabetes is in good control.
  • Consult with your doctor about changing the timing of your meals, medication or insulin.
  • Get a prescription from your doctor for insulin or oral diabetes pills.
  • Schedule immunization shots, if you need them, at least one month before you leave.
  • Contact the International Diabetes Federation (IDF)This image is associated with an external link. for list of foreign diabetes associations.
  • Get a list of English-speaking physicians in other countries from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.This image is associated with an external link.
  • Carry a “Diabetes Alert Card” or wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace that says “I have diabetes” to notify police, paramedics or hospital personnel in case of an emergency. Proper identification will help ensure that you receive the treatment you need.

 

These are just a few of the questions we’re often asked about diabetes, day in and day out. Keep in mind that while our representatives are very resourceful, they are not medical professionals. You should always contact your health care provider for individual medical advice.

So the next time you have a diabetes-related question on your mind, give us a call at 1-800-DIABETES, send an email to AskADA@diabetes.org or visit www.diabetes.org to use the free “Chat With Us” instant-messaging tool. Our hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and we have interpreter services available in any language.

We’re here to help!

Lee Barona
Managing Director, Center for Information and Community Support
American Diabetes Association

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17 Responses to Take a Guess: What Are the Most-Asked Questions about Diabetes?

  1. diane jessup says:

    Unforchanantely the part about being denied health coverage is not in effect yet.

    • ADA says:

      That’s right, Diane, the provisions banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions will be fully implemented in 2014. Until then, the law set up a special plan, called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), for the specific purpose of providing health insurance coverage to people who otherwise could not get insurance under the old rules (www.pcip.gov).

  2. Sonia Rodriguez says:

    What are some ot the issues a Diabetic for 39 years should be expected?

  3. Jack Brollier says:

    When should you see your Doctor. I see my Doctor once a year and i take insulin, now they are going to 18 Months, thats along time seeing a Doctor when you have diabetes I think, I dont no, now my A1C was 8.4 and before that it was 7.3.

  4. Daryl Scott says:

    I have had a CDL Class (A) license for many years. I was just diagnosed as a insuin dependant diabetic. Can I keep my CDL or will I loose them?

  5. TRUDY says:

    TRUDY HAS BEEN A DIABETIC SINCE I WAS 2 AND A HALF YEARS OLD WHEN I LIVED AT HOME WITH MY PARENTS I HAD TO CHECK MY BLOOD GLUCOSE EVERY DAY THE OLD FASSION WAY. AND ALL MY FOOD THE MEAT WAS WEIGHTED OUT SO I RECIEVED TTHE RIGHT AMOUNT AND THE VEGETABLES WERE MEASURED OUT BY USEING MEASURING CUPS. WHEN I MOVED OUT OF MY PARENTS HOUSE IN THE1980’S I TOTALLY STOPPEDMEASURING AND WEIGHTING OUT MY FOOD. OUT SO THAT TRUDY COULD COUNT HER CARBS. IN FEBRUARY OF 2012 RESTARTED TESTING MY BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS WITH A METER WHICH MAKES IT EASIER TO READMY BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS MY HUSBAND HIS NAME IS RODNEY AND HE HAS JUST
    STARTED TO MEASURE OUT MY VEGETABLES FOR THE DINNER MEAL AND DOCTOR WANTS TRUDY TO COUNT MY CARBS “AND THIS IS HELPPING TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT”! WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST WHAT KIND OF DIABETIC COOKBOOK SHOULD TRUDY BUY TO USE IN MY KITCHEN AT HOME?

  6. Phylis Peters says:

    I would like to know what the new levels of metrics are for: HbA1c: normal, high and low
    Blood pressure: normal, high and low
    Blood cholesterol: total: normal , high and low
    LDL, HDL and tryglercides: normal, high and low
    I am doing a grant for DSHS and I would like to use the most current metrics as possible so as to keep this study current.
    Thanks so much for giving me this infomration. Sr. Phylis Peters

    • ADA says:

      Here are recommendations for people with diabetes:

      – Know your A1C score and keep it under 7%.
      – Get your blood pressure (BP) checked at all doctor visits and aim for a BP of less than 130/80.
      – Keep your total cholesterol under 200 mg/dl, with low-density lipoproteins (LDL, the “lousy” cholesterol) under 100.
      – Aim for high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL) of higher than 40 mg/dl for men and 50 mg/dl for women.
      – Keep triglyceride levels to less than 150 mg/dl.

  7. TSA people usually assume that insulin is not degraded or damaged by airport xrays. But neither Novo-Nordisk nor Lantus people will confirm in writing that there is no degradation other than to allude cautiously to some studies which showed no negradation after a single (flight) exam. And TSA cannot provide any written assurances of safety. Both insulin manufacturers AND TSA people seem to have avoided dealing directly with the issue or doing substantial tests on the subject. If you’re travelling around on several flights or legs with the same supply of insulin, this tells me you should INSIST upon the visual inspection mode, and CERTAINLY don’t pack your insulin in loaded baggage (where the erays are much stronger). My doctor (nationally known endocrinologist, insulin specialty) gave me written instructions to do this, which I show to the puzzled TSA people on every flight. It works. Do it.

  8. Elias says:

    I lately heard about the Diabetes Scam Alert.

    • ADA says:

      Yes, it is important for people with diabetes to be aware of these phone scams. If you’re contacted by someone offering free diabetes supplies and claiming to be from the government or an organization with a name similar to the American Diabetes Association, it is almost certainly a scam. These scams typically target people on Medicare, so please warn your elderly friends and family members. And remember, the Association does not ask for Social Security, insurance or other highly personal information in our solicitations.

      More information: http://oig.hhs.gov/newsroom/news-releases/2012/alert20120309.asp?loc=interstitialskip

  9. rose says:

    Is it ok to drink alcohol on a daily bases (2/3 a day) for a type 2 diabetic who is insulin dependant?

    • ADA says:

      If your blood glucose is on target, and your doctor has approved your consumption of alcohol, it is unlikely that an occasional alcoholic drink at mealtime will harm you. The key is moderation. Women should consume no more than 1 drink per day and men no more than 2 drinks per day. Please see your health care provider with further questions.

  10. David Leavold says:

    Hi,

    I’m a 58-year-old male, and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 5 years ago. I’m careful with what I eat and drink, and have my blood sugar and cholesterol levels checked every month. The results have always been perfect. I’ve never had any diabetic-related symptoms such as frequent urination, excessive thirst, etc. While I appreciate that there’s no such thing as ‘mild’ diabetes, I as wondering whether some forms of type 2 might be more severe than others.

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