Yale Health

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas does not make insulin. Type 1 diabetes happens most often in children and young adults, but can appear at any age.

Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, is when your body does not make or use insulin well. You have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes if you are older, obese, have a family history of diabetes, or do not exercise.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes appear slowly and some people do not notice symptoms at all.

Symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • Being very thirsty

  • Urinating often

  • Feeling very hungry or tired

  • Losing weight without trying

  • Having sores that heal slowly

  • Having blurry eyesight

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that happens for the first time when a woman is pregnant. It goes away after you have your baby, but it does increase your risk for having diabetes later. Most women get a test to check for diabetes during their second trimester of pregnancy. Women at higher risk may get a test earlier.

Blood Glucose Monitoring

Blood glucose monitoring is the main tool you have to check your diabetes control. This check tells you your blood glucose level at any one time.

Use this printable blood glucose log to record your results to share with your clinician.

To check your blood glucose:

  • After washing your hands, insert a test strip into your meter.

  • Use your lancing device on the side of your fingertip to get a drop of blood.

  • Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood, and wait for the result.

  • Your blood glucose level will appear on the meter's display.

Additional tips:

  • With some meters, you can also use your forearm, thigh or fleshy part of your hand.

  • There are spring-loaded lancing devices that make sticking yourself less painful.

  • If you use your fingertip, stick the side of your fingertip by your fingernail to avoid having sore spots on the frequently used part of your finger.