Diabetes affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of what we eat is broken down into sugar (or glucose) and enters our bloodstream. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that lets blood sugar into our cells for energy. If you have diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin, or can't use available insulin as well as it should. When this happens, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which can lead to serious health problems. Here are the most common types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction (where the body attacks itself by mistake) so insulin isn't made anymore. About 5% of people with diabetes have type 1. Type 1 is most often seen in children and young adults.
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes before. Every year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, it usually goes away after your baby is born, but greatly increases your risk and your baby's risk of having type 2 diabetes later in life.
Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet. About one-third of adults have prediabetes, but most don't know it. You can have it for years without symptoms, so it often goes undetected until it becomes type 2.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn't use insulin well. It can lead to serious health problems like heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of toes, feet, or legs. Two out of five adults are expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
About one-third of adults have prediabetes, but most don't know it. Could you be one of them? Take the Prediabetes Risk Test.
What You Can Do
If you have prediabetes or are at risk, you want to do what you can to stop prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes. And, if you have diabetes, learning successful self-management practices can help delay or prevent complications. Select a topic below to learn about resources that can help your prevent or manage diabetes.
Prediabetes and preventing type 2 diabetes
About one-third of adults have prediabetes, but most don't know it. Without lifestyle change, prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes within five years. The good news is that research shows prediabetes can be reversed through healthy eating, increased activity, and weight loss. Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, here are three things you can do:
- Find out if you're at risk by learning more about prediabetes and taking the Prediabetes Risk Test.
- If you are at risk or have prediabetes, sign up for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is offered at locations across Wisconsin and online. To find a location near you, search the Wisconsin Institute for Health Aging's Workshops in Wisconsin Tool. To find an online program, see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) list of Online or Combination In-person/Online suppliers.
See your health care provider regularly to have your blood sugar checked.
National Diabetes Prevention Program
The National Diabetes Prevention Program helps people make lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes. Evidence shows participants can reduce their risk by 58% or more. Here's what you can expect from the program:
- An evidence-based class
- Year-long support
- A trained lifestyle coach
- A support group: because it's easier to make changes together
- A goal to lose 5-7% of your starting weight
To learn more about the program and find locations near you, visit the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging's National Diabetes Prevention Program website.
Diabetes and self-care
Managing your diabetes can be a challenge. Here are a few things that can help:
- Workshops and Programs
- Healthy Living with Diabetes and Vivir Saludable con Diabetes are evidence-based workshops offered by the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging in English and Spanish.
- Diabetes education is covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans when offered through an accredited program. To find an accredited program near you, visit the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists' Find an Education Program website.
- Logs and Guides. These materials are available at no charge and can be ordered in large quantities by using the F-80025a form:
- Diabetes Self-Care Guide, P-43081 (PDF): explains how diabetes affects you and what you can do to take care of yourself. There is space in the back to keep track of your diabetes care and set health goals. Also available in Spanish (PDF) and Hmong (PDF) (download only).
- Blood Glucose (Sugar) Log Booklet, P-00246 (PDF): log your blood glucose (sugar) results each day and use the results to make lifestyle changes. Share your results with your health care providers so they can make changes to your medicine if needed. Also available in Spanish (PDF).
- Personal Diabetes Care Record Wallet Card, F-49357 (PDF): keep your health care team's contact information and most recent lab/exam results in one convenient location. Also available in Spanish. (PDF)
- American Heart Association's Check. Change. Control. Tracker: keep track of your blood pressure by regularly measuring it at home, and record it using this tracker. It's important for you and your health care provider to track your blood pressure, since having diabetes increases your risk for heart disease
- Don't smoke, or get the help you need to quit. Visit the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line or call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) to get free access to coaching and medication to help you quit.
- Medication, Prescription, Medicare, and Benefits Assistance
- Needy Meds: information on locating assistance programs for affording medications and health care costs.
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance: free, online resource for uninsured and underinsured individuals to find prescription medications for free or nearly free.
- Managing Health Care Waste: the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' website has information on managing health care waste for patients, clinics, schools, and others.
- Managing Household Medical Sharps: the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website has information on correct packaging and safe disposal of medical sharps through the Wisconsin Sharps Collection Program.
- The Medigap Helpline (1-800-242-1060) is a toll-free helpline operated by the Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care that provides free counseling to all Wisconsin Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, employer-based health insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, long-term care insurance, and related topics.
- The Medigap Part D and Prescription Drug Helpline (1-855-677-2783) is a toll-free helpline operated by the Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care that answers questions from Wisconsin residents aged 60 and over about Medicare Part D and other prescription drug coverage options.
- The Disability Drug Benefits Helpline (1-800-926-4862) is a toll-free helpline operated by Disability Rights Wisconsin that helps people who have Medicare due to a disability with questions about prescription drug coverage.
- Benefit specialists at local Aging Units and Aging and Disability Resource Centers are available in every county to provide individualized counseling and advocacy for adults ages 18 to 59 with disabilities and people age 60 or older. They can assist with Medicare, as well as other public and private benefits issues.
- Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (video phone: 262-347-3045) provides outreach and individual counseling in American Sign Language.
- Wisconsin Judicare, Inc. (1-800-472-1638) provides outreach and benefits counseling to Native American Medicare beneficiaries.
- Wisconsin Lion's Foundation's Diabetes Educational Videos can be viewed on YouTube (below), or ordered by calling 1-877-463-6953 (toll-free)
Children and adolescents with diabetes
Resources for the school setting
- American Diabetes Association Training Resources for School Staff. Information and resources on understanding diabetes and diabetes care in the school setting which include school training modules, Diabetes Medical Management Plan, school nurse pump training skills checklist, recommendations for use of continuous glucose monitors in the school setting, insulin guidance for school nurses, tips to help teachers keep kids with diabetes safe at school, and more.
- Managing Diabetes Safely in the School Setting: A Framework for Collaborative Care, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
- Diabetes Management in Schools (School Nursing and Health Services), Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
- Emergency Action Plan for Students with Diabetes, F-43009 (PDF)
- Diabetes Medical Management Plan, F-43013 (PDF)
Diabetes Camp for Children in Rosholt, WI
The Wisconsin Lions Camp offers two, one-week sessions for children with diabetes ages 12-16. Kids meet other kids like them, build self-confidence, and learn about healthy lifestyle through education, physical activity, emotional well-being, and glucose control. To learn more please visit wisconsinlionscamp.com or call 715-677-4969.
Know Diabetes by Heart: living with type 2 diabetes puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Knowing what steps to take may reduce your risk.
Eat Right: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: food and nutrition resources from the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals
National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin: diabetes, high blood pressure, and family history are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin: if you have diabetes, prevention of eye diseases related to diabetes is a priority
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: resources for living with diabetes including sick days, managing blood sugar, mental health, and being prepared for emergencies
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: resources for diabetes tests and diagnosis, insulin and medications, and preventing problems
American Diabetes Association: resources for all types of diabetes, their friends, family, and people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes
JDRF: resources for people with type 1 diabetes, their friends, and family
What We Are Doing
The Chronic Disease Prevention Program partners with communities, health systems, health care providers, insurers, and professional organizations to prevent type 2 diabetes and improve diabetes management. Select a topic below to explore our current projects and partnerships.
National Diabetes Prevention Program
Our program supports the sustainability of the National Diabetes Prevention Program by:
- Increasing awareness of prediabetes and the program.
- Increasing access through technical assistance to CDC-recognized suppliers and organizations interested in becoming CDC-recognized suppliers.
- Providing lifestyle coach trainings that build skills to deliver the program and address issues such as increasing enrollment and retaining participants.
- Assisting health care organizations in implementing systems to identify people with prediabetes and refer them to programs in Wisconsin.
- Working with health insurers and employers to increase the number of people who have the program as a covered benefit.
If you are a health care organization or employer, consider that for every 100 high-risk adults completing the National Diabetes Prevention Program:
- 15 new cases of type 2 diabetes are prevented
- 11 people avoid having to take blood pressure and cholesterol medications
- 162 missed work days are prevented
- $91,400 in health care costs are avoided
National Diabetes Prevention Program Resources
- CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program website
- Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging’s National Diabetes Prevention Program website
- Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Expanded Model
- National Diabetes Prevention Program Customer Service Center
- Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program Welcome Guide and Video
- National Diabetes Prevention Program Coverage Toolkit
- Diabetes Prevention Impact Toolkit
- American Medical Association’s Prevent Diabetes STAT
- American Medical Association’s Preventing Type 2 Diabetes: A guide to refer your patients with prediabetes to an evidence-based diabetes prevention program
- Ad Council Do I Have Prediabetes awareness materials (view video spots)
- Wisconsin 2017 Diabetes Prevention State Engagement Meeting
- Wisconsin 2018 Diabetes Prevention Outcomes Summit
The Chronic Disease Prevention Program is committed to sharing chronic disease data with Wisconsin communities. Explore maps and data resources by topic on our Maps and Data webpage.
Diabetes self-management education and support programs
Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) is a critical element of care for all people with diabetes. DSMES is the ongoing process of facilitating the knowledge, skills, and ability necessary for self-care for someone with diabetes. The Chronic Disease Prevention Program supports improved access and participation in DSMES. DSMES is associated with increases in primary service visits and decreases in acute, inpatient hospital visits. Currently, we are working with the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality Chronic Disease Steering Team, the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging, and Milwaukee-based Community Health Workers at Unite WI to increase access to and participation in DSMES programs.
If you'd like to know more about DSMES standards, accreditation and recognition, reimbursement, and more, we encourage using the CDC's DSMES Toolkit.
Community health worker infrastructure and sustainability
Community health workers are frontline, culturally competent, public health workers who serve as a bridge between less resourced communities and health care systems. They are from, or have a close understanding of, the community served. We support the advancement of a statewide community health worker network, training and apprenticeships, and engage with the Wisconsin Public Health Association's Community Health Worker Section. We also promote sustainability of care models that engage community health workers in diabetes prevention and management. Collaborative partners include organizations utilizing the Pathways Community HUB Model, like UniteMKE in Milwaukee, and Great Rivers HUB in La Crosse.
Electronic health records, health information technology, and quality measures
Many health systems use electronic health records and health information technology to measure and track clinical quality measures. Our program promotes the adoption of standardized clinical quality measures to prevent and manage diabetes. Additionally, we promote the adoption of these measures to improve monitoring of health and health care disparities among populations, and inform activities to eliminate them. Below are our current partnerships specific to these efforts:
- The Chronic Disease Quality Improvement Project is a partnership between health plans, health care providers, Wisconsin's Chronic Disease Prevention and Medicaid Programs, and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The project was established in 1998, with an initial focus on diabetes. Over the years, its scope expanded to include other chronic diseases and their risk factors. Members evaluate and report chronic disease prevention and health care quality measures. They also share information, population-based strategies, and evidence-based approaches to improve care. Check out our annual reports for this project:
- We partner with the Wisconsin Primary Healthcare Association to increase the number of Wisconsin's community health centers using Azara DRVS, a centralized data reporting system that leverages electronic health record data for population health management and quality improvement. We encourage provider-level quality improvement projects that use diabetes management measures found in Azara DRVS. Currently, 12 of 18 community health centers are using this system.
- The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality publicly reports electronic health record-derived performance measures to drive health care quality improvement.
Medication therapy management
Medication therapy management is a distinct service to ensure the best therapeutic outcomes for patients. It includes five core elements:
- Medication therapy review
- Personal medication record
- Medication-related action plan
- Intervention or referral
- Documentation and follow-up
Medication therapy management has been shown to improve how well people take the medication they are prescribed. We work closely with the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin and their Wisconsin Pharmacy Quality Collaborative program to engage pharmacists in the promotion of medication therapy management and lifestyle modification for patients with diabetes. The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin provides interactive training, toolkits, and technical assistance to 250+ accredited pharmacies and nearly 500 certified pharmacists across Wisconsin.