Health Library

The Health Library is a collection of health and wellness resources created for learning and accessibility. Select a topic below for related health information or search for a topic in the search bar for more information on other medical conditions.

Autoimmune Conditions

  • Provides links to information about the immune system. Includes info about immunizations, HIV and autoimmune disorders, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

  • What is Addison's disease? Addison's disease develops when the adrenal glands, which are above the kidneys, are not able to make enough of the hormones cortisol and, sometimes, aldosterone. Your body needs both of these hormones to work as it should. Cortisol helps the body cope with extreme physical stress from...

  • About 1 out of 3 people with lupus produce an antibody that attacks certain blood-clotting factors, which can cause the blood to clot easily. A person who has this antibody and has had blood clots is said to have antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. This can lead to mild or severe blood-clotting complications, including...

  • Antiphospholipid syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease that has been closely linked to some cases of recurrent miscarriage. This syndrome increases blood clotting. It can cause dangerous blood clots (thrombosis) and problems with blood flow. For some women, the only sign of this condition is an early miscarriage. Or...

  • Take care of your supplies so that you can test your blood sugar safely and get the most accurate blood sugar results. These results will be used to evaluate your treatment for diabetes. Meters. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer about how to care for the meter. All meters can be damaged by...

  • Learn how to prepare and easily give yourself a single dose of insulin.

  • Learn how testing your blood sugar can help you stay in your target range.

  • Follow your body's hunger and fullness signals. Smart snacking can help you keep your blood sugar levels stable, especially if you are taking medicine for diabetes. Try these tips: Enjoy eating the right portion. Try using a smaller plate, bowl, or glass while you slowly eat your snack...

  • If you have diabetes, talk with your health professional (if you haven't already) about how often you need to test your blood sugar level. Use this form to record the times that you should test and when to call your health professional for blood...

  • How does alcohol affect diabetes? When you have diabetes, you need to be careful with alcohol. If you take medicine for diabetes, drinking alcohol may cause low blood sugar. Too much alcohol can also affect your ability to know when your blood sugar is low and to treat it. Drinking alcohol can make you feel...

  • Insulin is used for people who have type 1 diabetes. It's also used if you have type 2 diabetes and other medicines are not controlling your blood sugar. If you have gestational diabetes, you may need to take insulin if diet and exercise have not helped to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. With...

  • Eating low-glycemic foods is one tool to help keep your diabetes under control. The glycemic index is a rating system for foods that contain carbohydrate. It helps you know how quickly a food with carbohydrate raises blood sugar, so you can focus on eating foods that raise blood sugar slowly. Foods that raise...

  • Learn how carbohydrate foods raise your blood sugar.

  • Learn how insulin works and why diabetes causes high blood sugar.

  • When you test your blood sugar, you learn your blood sugar level at that time. But you can't tell what's happening to your blood sugar the rest of the time—especially overnight. A continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, can do that for you. A CGM has...

  • Managing diabetes is all about setting a healthy routine of medicine, eating, exercise, and sleep. But when you work night shifts or have changing work shifts, it can seem like there's nothing at all routine about your life. It's definitely more of a chore to manage diabetes under such conditions, but it can be done...

  • A colonoscopy is a test that lets a doctor look inside your colon. The doctor uses a thin, lighted tube called a colonoscope to look for small growths (called polyps), cancer, and other problems like bleeding. During the test, the doctor can take...

  • Learn the signs of infection with diabetes so that small skin problems don't become serious.

  • Learn the best way to test blood sugar. Knowing your blood sugar levels helps you manage your diabetes.

  • Learn how to prepare and give yourself a mixed dose of insulin.

  • It's true—diabetes raises your risk of heart disease. That means your risks of heart attack and stroke are higher when you have diabetes. Diabetes is plenty to keep up with as it is. That explains why dealing with both heart risk and diabetes can seem like too much all at once. But it's also true that good...

  • Learn how to use a finger-stick test to see how food or activity can change your blood sugar.

  • Learn about the A1c test and how to make a plan to meet your safe target blood sugar level.

  • Learn why checking your feet daily when you have diabetes is important and how to do it.

  • Learn the simple steps to give yourself an insulin shot in the arm using a syringe.

  • Learn how to give a glucagon shot to a person who is having a low-blood-sugar emergency.

  • Learn what you can do to have a healthy pregnancy and baby when you have diabetes.

  • Learn what other women with diabetes have done to prepare for pregnancy.

  • Hear how other people learned to do a better job managing their diabetes.

  • Learn how to prepare for surgery when you have diabetes.

  • Learn what you can do at home to slow down kidney damage.

  • Learn why having diabetes raises your risk for heart disease and what you can do about it.

  • Checking the feet and keeping them clean and soft can help prevent cracks and infection in the skin. This is especially important for people who have diabetes. Keeping toenails trimmed—and polished if that's what the person likes—also helps the person feel well-groomed. If the person you care for has diabetes or...

  • For a lot of people, diabetes leads to serious health problems. These life-changing conditions bring with them new medical decisions and plans. Medical decisions are very personal. Different people handle them in different ways. "In the past year, I've learned I have kidney disease from my diabetes...

  • Your name: __________________ Date: _______________________ You can make the most of your office visit by having this form with you when you talk with your doctor. What to bring to every appointment Your blood sugar log. A list of all your...

  • Helping or caring for an older adult with diabetes can feel like a lot to take on. There's the challenge of caregiving—because what seems best for someone isn't always what that person wants to do. You may worry about invading your loved one's privacy or free will. There's also the stress of learning how to manage...

  • Learn how testing helps you make the connection between blood sugar levels and daily activities.

  • Because you have diabetes, you need to wash your feet carefully each day. Post this list of proper foot-washing steps in your bathroom. Use warm (not hot) water. Check the water temperature with your wrists, not your feet. Wash all areas of your...

  • If your feet require specially designed shoes, ask your insurance plan about covering the cost of the shoes. Medicare will cover foot exams and special (orthotic) shoes or shoe inserts. Some medical supply shops specialize in designing custom-fitted...

  • Because you have diabetes, you will need to be especially careful to protect your feet from injury. Wear shoes all the time. If you do not want to wear shoes indoors, wear slippers with hard soles and good support. Keep your shoes next to your...

  • Discusses preventing high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) problems in a person with diabetes. Explains emergencies in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Discusses treating infections early, being prepared, and drinking plenty of liquids.

  • Foods containing carbohydrate are grouped into the following categories. The carbohydrate content is listed in grams (g). If you eat a larger portion, count it as more than one serving. One serving of carbohydrate has 15 grams of carbohydrate. Of course, not all foods contain exactly 15 grams of carbohydrate...

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs in people with diabetes when the sugar (glucose) level in the blood drops below what the body needs to function normally. If your blood sugar drops below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), you may have symptoms, such as feeling tired, weak, or shaky. If your blood sugar drops...

  • Discusses dealing with negative feelings that can interfere with your ability to follow your diet for diabetes. Provides ways to deal with negative feelings about your diet. Includes links to more info on type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • Use this form to think about any negative feelings you have about diabetes. My feeling is (for example, resentment):_____________________ I have this feeling because I think (for example, I resent the fact that I have diabetes and should eat less of some foods that I like): _______________________________________...

  • When you have diabetes, your feet need extra care and attention. Diabetes can damage the nerve endings and blood vessels in your feet, making you less likely to notice when your feet are injured. Diabetes can also interfere with your body's ability to fight infection. If you develop a minor foot injury, it could become...

  • Describes monitoring blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. Covers list of supplies needed, including blood sugar meter, testing strips, and lancet. Gives step-by-step instructions. Links to info on type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

  • This information is for people who may need to give a person with diabetes an injection of glucagon during a low blood sugar emergency. Giving a glucagon injection is similar to giving insulin. If possible, practice giving your partner or child an insulin injection at least once a month so you will be more ready if...

  • Explains using plate format as easy way to plan meals. Looks at how it helps keep your blood sugar level from going way up and down. Covers how it can be used with other meal-planning methods. Discusses how it helps you eat healthy foods.

  • Use this form to record a low blood sugar level problem. Fill out a record each time this happens. Take the completed form(s) to the doctor. If you (or your child with diabetes) is having low blood sugar problems, the diabetes medicine dose may need...

  • When you have diabetes, you need to examine your feet every day. Look at all areas of your feet, including your toes. Use a handheld mirror or a magnifying mirror attached to the bathroom wall near the baseboard to inspect your feet. If you can't see well, have someone else use this checklist to examine your feet for...

  • People often think that following a diet for diabetes means giving up foods they like and having to eat foods they don't like. If you think a diet for diabetes means you can't eat any of the foods you like, try this: Write down what foods are good for you, which are bad for you, which foods you like, and which foods you...

  • Keeping your blood sugar in a target range reduces your risk of problems such as diabetic eye disease ( retinopathy), kidney disease ( nephropathy), and nerve disease ( neuropathy). Some people can work toward lower numbers, and some people may need higher goals. For example, some children and adolescents with...

  • Insulin is used to treat people who have diabetes. Each type of insulin acts over a specific amount of time. The amount of time can be affected by exercise, diet, illness, some medicines, stress, the dose, how you take it, or where you inject it. The table below is a general guide. Your results may be different...

  • Some medicines for conditions other than diabetes can raise your blood sugar level. This is a concern when you have diabetes. Make sure every doctor you see knows about all of the medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements you take. This means...

  • Insulin can become damaged and ineffective if it is not stored properly. Unopened insulin that is packaged in small glass bottles (vials) should be stored in the refrigerator. Liquid insulin that is packaged in small cartridges (containing several doses) is more stable. These cartridges are used in...

  • Diabetes is a disease in which the body either does not produce or is unable to use the hormone insulin properly. The pancreas produces insulin, which helps the body use sugar (glucose) from foods. If the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, or if the body cannot use the insulin properly, blood sugar levels rise and...

  • You can safely exercise when you have diabetes. Here are some tips. Talk to your doctor about how and when to exercise. You may need to have a medical exam and tests (such as a treadmill test) before you begin. Also, some types of exercise can be...

  • Travel can make it hard to keep your blood sugar within your target range because of changes in time zones, meal schedules, and types of foods available. Whenever you need to see a doctor away from home, let him or her know you have diabetes. And...

  • Discusses test to measure blood sugar (glucose) levels in those who have diabetes. Covers why and how it is done. Looks at what might affect the test. Covers risks.

  • Covers type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. Describes how pancreas regulates blood sugar (glucose) levels. Includes info on hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Discusses treatments, including insulin.

  • If high blood sugar levels have damaged nerves that go to your skin, you may sweat less, and your skin may become dry and cracked. Damaged skin becomes infected more easily when you have diabetes. To prevent skin problems and allow for early...

  • People with diabetes have a greater risk for gum (periodontal) disease when blood sugar is high. And gum disease can cause higher blood sugar levels, which makes it hard to fight infection, including infections in the mouth. To help prevent dental...

  • The teen years may be the most difficult time for a young person with diabetes and his or her parents. The normal cycle of rapid growth spurts and periods of slow growth along with the normal teenager behaviors of going to bed late, sleeping late,...

  • Some people with diabetes use their insulin syringes and lancets more than once to save money. But makers of syringes and lancets do not recommend using them more than once. Talk with your doctor before reusing these items. Some people who have...

  • Covers blood test that checks the amount of sugar (glucose) bound to hemoglobin. Explains that test is done to check how well you are managing your diabetes. Covers how it is done and discusses results.

  • To be diagnosed with diabetes, you must meet one of the following criteria: Have symptoms of diabetes (increased thirst, increased urination, and unexplained weight loss) and a blood sugar level equal to or greater than 200 milligrams per...

  • Teaches counting carbs to help you maintain control of your blood sugar level when you have diabetes. Explains why carb counting is important, allowing you to adjust the amount of insulin you take. Includes links to more info on type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • Cholesterol (or lipid) problems are common in diabetes. These problems are usually related to obesity and insulin resistance. They can also be related to lack of insulin in your body. Triglyceride blood levels are usually elevated. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) blood level is usually low...

  • High blood sugar from diabetes can affect the body's immune system, impairing the ability of white blood cells to come to the site of an infection, stay in the infected area, and kill microorganisms. Because of the buildup of plaque in blood vessels associated with diabetes, areas of infection may receive a poor blood...

  • A1c is a test that shows the average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. People who have diabetes usually have this test to see whether their blood sugar levels have been staying within a target range. This test is also used to...

  • The table below summarizes many of the tests that can be done to identify complications from diabetes, including those tests done during a physical exam. The physical exam evaluates your overall health. The doctor pays special attention to your...

  • In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes). Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes), accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have diabetes. In type 1...

  • Sometimes complications develop even when risk factors such as blood sugar level and blood pressure have been controlled. But following your treatment to control your blood sugar levels is still an important part of your treatment. The most common serious complications from diabetes are coronary artery disease (CAD)...

  • Over time, high blood sugar levels from diabetes lead to damage of the retina, the layer on the back of the eye that captures images and sends them as nerve signals to the brain. Whether diabetic retinopathy develops depends in part on how high blood sugar levels have been and how long they have been above a target...

  • Many things work together to cause foot problems in people who have diabetes, especially poor circulation and nerve disease (neuropathy). Neuropathy significantly dulls awareness of your feet, making you more susceptible to extensive injury-related damage. Also, diabetes can impair your ability to heal by both damaging...

  • When a food comes in a package, take a look at the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list on the package. Start with the "% Daily Value" column on the food label. A food is considered low in a specific nutrient (such as fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, or sodium) if it has 5% or less of the daily value. A food is...

  • With planning and thoughtful choices, you can follow your meal plan for diabetes when you eat away from home, such as at a party or a restaurant. Here are some tips: Plan ahead At restaurants, check for online menus that include nutrition information before you go, or ask for this information when you arrive. Most...

  • If you are a woman with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who is planning to become pregnant, meet with your doctor. Your doctor will want to talk to you about your A1c goal, your medicine for diabetes, your weight, and getting enough folic acid. Your doctor will want to make sure that you are up to date with immunizations. And...

  • Even though you have diabetes, you can have the same success with breastfeeding as any other woman. Breastfeeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical specialist organizations, because it benefits the mother and the infant. Make sure your diabetes care team and other members of the...

  • You may find it difficult to stay motivated to manage your diabetes appropriately. The following suggestions may help. Set goals and provide positive reinforcement Praise and reward yourself for the things you do right. Use nonfood rewards, such as clothing, sports equipment, books, a golf trip, or a movie night...

  • What happens when you are sick When you are sick, your body reacts by releasing hormones to fight infection. But these hormones raise blood sugar levels and at the same time make it more difficult for insulin to lower blood sugar. When you have diabetes, even a minor illness can lead to dangerously high blood sugar...

  • Teaches counting carbs to help you and your child plan meals to manage diabetes and control blood sugar. Explains why carb counting is important. Includes links to more info on counting carbs if you use insulin and on type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • If your child doesn't want to feel the insulin needle, your child's doctor can prescribe an indwelling subcutaneous cannula. A small needle is used to insert a soft tube into a place where you give your child an insulin shot, such as the belly. The needle is taken out, but the soft tube (cannula) stays in your child's...

  • Foot problems in people with diabetes are usually treated by keeping blood sugar levels in a target blood sugar range and by using medicine, surgery, and other types of treatment. When foot problems develop, those problems need prompt treatment so that serious complications don't develop. Even problems that seem...

  • Blood vessel and nerve damage linked with diabetes can lead to serious infections that are extremely hard to treat. Often the first place you have a problem is your feet. When you lose the ability to feel your toes and feet, you are more likely to injure them without knowing it. Even a minor injury, such as a small cut...

  • Talk to your doctor if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and are planning to get pregnant. To make sure that both you and your baby stay healthy, you may need to fine-tune your diabetes care before you get pregnant. If you have diabetes and want to get pregnant, the most important thing you can do is to get your...

  • Guides you through decision to get an insulin pump to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Discusses who makes a good candidate for an insulin pump. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

  • More and more people with diabetes are using insulin pumps instead of daily shots to manage their disease. The pumps give them more freedom to eat, sleep, and exercise when they want. A pump can be an important tool in preventing problems like very low blood sugar. But using an insulin pump takes some getting used to...

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