Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes:

• 4.9 million (an increase from 3.7 million in 2007), or 18.7% of all African Americans, aged 20 years or older, also have diabetes.

• African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites.

• 25 percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes.

• 1 in 4 African American women over 55 years of age has diabetes.

While living with diabetes can be a challenge, following some basic guidelines can help you keep your blood sugar under control and avoid diabetic complications and emergencies.

Here are 15 tips for living a healthier life with diabetes:

1. Don’t assume that you’ll feel when your blood sugar is getting high.

Type 2 diabetes is often a silent disease. You may feel just fine even though chronically high blood sugar levels are doing serious damage to your body. When it comes to monitoring diabetes, don’t rely on how you feel. Don’t wait until it’s advanced enough to cause symptoms.

Every person with diabetes needs to use a home blood glucose monitor to keep tabs on blood sugar. Ask your doctor about how often you need to check your blood sugar. It varies from person to person, depending on your health and the medicines you take.

2. Get enough sleep.

People with type 2 diabetes who don’t sleep enough are more likely to feel more nerve pain and have unhealthy blood sugar levels. High levels of stress hormones in the body — triggered by not getting enough sleep — can make you hungry for sweets, which can make the problem worse. Studies have found that chronic lack of sleep is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.

Allow for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. In some cases, diabetes symptoms, such as frequent urination, can make sleep difficult. If you’re always overtired, talk to your doctor.

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