Lifestyle & Management

Changing diet and exercise habits can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in people at high-risk for it.

At three years after beginning the Diabetes Prevention Program, people at risk of diabetes were 71 percent less likely to get the disease. The program focuses on a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise. In contrast, metformin (a diabetes medication) caused an 11 percent reduction in risk of new diabetes diagnoses.

Diet and Exercise

Changes to diet and exercise can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels and avoid limits on their activities. Benefits include:

  • Improve overall health
  • Help manage blood glucose level
  • Decrease risk for complications from diabetes

Your healthcare providers can help design a diet and exercise program that is right for you.

Below are other lifestyle changes and preventative steps you can make.


Know How To Recognize Symptoms

Despite your best efforts, you could experience problems. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

Very High Blood Glucose

This doesn’t happen often, but it is a serious problem, mostly for older adults. A spike in glucose can be caused by a sudden illness, particularly an infection, or certain medications. Symptoms include:

  • Physical weakness
  • Lack of energy
  • Agitation
  • Confusion

Low Blood Glucose  

Low blood glucose usually occurs when a person takes too much diabetes medication, or if they skip a meal. Illness and infections can also cause low blood glucose. Symptoms include:

  • Nervousness
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
What to Do

Symptoms of low and high blood sugar levels can be confusing. So, you should measure your blood glucose level at the first sign of symptoms. Then contact your healthcare provider right away. If you aren’t able to measure your glucose, call your provider promptly.

If your blood glucose is low, you should be able to raise it quickly by having some sugar. You can:

  • Eat a piece of candy,
  • Have a spoonful of honey, or
  • Drink a half glass of fruit juice
  • Keep hard candies available in case of need.

These sugar boosts don’t last long. So, eat a meal as soon as possible.

If your blood glucose is frequently or severely low, your healthcare provider will need to check your diabetes treatment plan and may change it or refer you to a diabetes care specialist.

Other Steps in Diabetes Care

To help monitor whether you may be developing diabetes-related problems, work with your healthcare provider to:

  • Review all the medications you are taking that might affect your blood glucose. For example, certain water pills (diuretics) or steroid medications for asthma or arthritis.
  • Have a urine test every year. Having a protein called albumin in your urine can be an early sign of kidney damage.
  • See your dentist twice a year to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Get a flu shot every year. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting a vaccine for pneumonia (pneumococcal vaccine).
  • Protect your skin from the sun with hats and clothing, and keep your skin clean and moisturized. Take care of cuts and bruises to prevent infections.
Last Updated April 2023

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