Living With Type 1 Diabetes
Insulin can be a difficult drug to manage. A mismatch between insulin and food intake can cause blood sugar to drop dangerously low . This can lead to symptoms such as a fast heart beat or feeling shaky. It can cause diabetic ketoacidosis, in which the bodys chemical balance becomes deranged because theres not enough insulin to move sugar into cells. Hypoglycemia can also lead to a diabetic coma, and even death. In the Scottish study, 21% of deaths among younger people with type 1 diabetes occurred as a result of diabetic coma and related causes.
That said, insulin works very well for most people with type 1 diabetes. Other reasons why people with type 1 diabetes are now living longer include:
Better insulins are available, and they are easier to use. Some last all day, others work very quickly. Insulin pumps make it easier to deliver insulin
Better ways to track blood sugar with home glucose monitors and even continuous glucose monitors. Keeping blood sugar close to normal is linked with longer life.
New drugs and other therapies to prevent and treat complications of diabetes, such as heart disease and kidney disease. Both are major causes of early death in people with type 1 diabetes.
Checking Your Blood Sugar Levels
Checking your blood sugar levels is an important part of managing your diabetes, so well take you through how to check them and what your readings mean.
And weve also got more information about what happens your blood sugar levels get too low, called a hypo, or too high, called a hyper, so that youre aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for.
Advances In Diabetes Care
Improvements in life expectancy with diabetes could be due, in part, to more accurate information on death rates and causes of death. However, diabetes treatment and management is continuing to improve in many ways including:
More effective medications including injectable insulin, intensive insulin therapy , inhaled insulin, and oral medications to help regulate insulin and blood glucose.
Easier-to-use blood glucose monitoring tools including less painful lancing devices and continuous glucose monitoring.
More support for self-management from professionalssuch as certified diabetes educators and nurse educators experienced in training patients to effectively self-manage diabetes.
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The Role Of Glycaemic Control
All-cause mortality and the association of glycaemic control .
The evidence therefore suggests that while early good glycaemic control is important in the prevention of CVD and survival, the importance of glycaemic control may diminish as patients survive longer. While glycaemic control is clearly a risk factor for CAD and mortality in type 1 diabetes, this is not the major determinant of survival. Good glycaemic control alone cannot explain why some type 1 patients survive into old age.
You May Become Very Familiar With Insulin
The severity of your diabetes determines if you need to inject or inhale insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. Although mainly needed for those with Type 1 diabetes, extra insulin may also be necessary if you have Type 2 diabetes. Either way, its an important part of controlling your diabetes.
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Diabetes Sick Day Rules
If you need to take insulin to control your diabetes, you should have received instructions about looking after yourself when you’re ill known as your “sick day rules”.
Contact your diabetes care team or GP for advice if you haven’t received these.
The advice you’re given will be specific to you, but some general measures that your sick day rules may include could be to:
- keep taking your insulin it’s very important not to stop treatment when you’re ill your treatment plan may state whether you need to temporarily increase your dose
- test your blood glucose level more often than usual most people are advised to check the level at least four times a day
- keep yourself well hydrated make sure you drink plenty of sugar-free drinks
- keep eating eat solid food if you feel well enough to, or liquid carbohydrates such as milk, soup and yoghurt if this is easier
- check your ketone levels if your blood glucose level is high
Seek advice from your diabetes care team or GP if your blood glucose or ketone level remains high after taking insulin, if:
- you’re not sure whether to make any changes to your treatment
- you develop symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis
- you have any other concerns
Read more about sick day rules
Diabetes And Healthy Eating
If you have diabetes its important to include a wide variety of nutritious and healthy foods in your diet, and to avoid snacking on sugary foods.
Enjoy a variety of foods from each food group be sure to include foods high in fibre and low in fat and reduce your salt intake. Its helpful to consult with a dietitian to review your current eating plan and provide a guide about food choices and food quantities.
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What Should I Expect If I Have Been Diagnosed With Diabetes
If you have diabetes, the most important thing you can do is keep your blood glucose level within the target range recommended by your healthcare provider. In general, these targets are:
- Before a meal: between 80 and 130 mg/dL.
- About two hours after the start of a meal: less than 180 mg/dL.
You will need to closely follow a treatment plan, which will likely include following a customized diet plan, exercising 30 minutes five times a week, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Always take your medications and insulin as instructed by your provider.
Why Having Diabetes Doesnt Necessarily Mean Youll Die Sooner
Its true that, when you consider heart-related cardiovascular complications, men and women with diabetes tend to have higher rates of early death than their peers without the disease, according to research. But its also true that no two people with diabetes are the same, and how a person manages his or her blood sugar is key when considering how the disease might affect your life span.
Having diabetes wont necessarily change someone’s life expectancy it’s how diabetes progresses. For every individual, diabetes is going to progress differently, says Joanne Rinker, RD, CDE, director of practice and content development at the American Association of Diabetes Educators. If it progresses at an extremely slow rate, because diabetes is so individualized, it might be so slow that it does not impact their life expectancy whatsoever.
Instead of thinking only about how diabetes will impact your life span, experts suggest that people with the condition should take a broader look at their overall health. Diabetes is not a singular disease that one should focus on. Focus on how you can improve the different risk factors that can impact the functioning of the heart and other organs, says Medha Munshi, MD, director of geriatric diabetes programs at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. It’s important to think, What are the factors that would impact my length of life?
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How Does Diabetes Lead To Amputation
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to poor blood flow . Without oxygen and nutrients , you are more prone to the development of cuts and sores that can lead to infections that cant fully heal. Areas of your body that are farthest away from your heart are more likely to experience the effects of poor blood flow. So areas of your body like your toes, feet, legs and fingers are more likely to be amputated if infection develops and healing is poor.
What Types Of Diabetes Require Insulin
People with Type 1 diabetes need insulin to live. If you have Type 1 diabetes, your body has attacked your pancreas, destroying the cells that make insulin. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas makes insulin, but it doesnt work as it should. In some people with Type 2 diabetes, insulin may be needed to help glucose move from your bloodstream to your bodys cells where its needed for energy. You may or may not need insulin if you have gestational diabetes. If you are pregnant or have Type 2 diabetes, your healthcare provider will check your blood glucose level, assess other risk factors and determine a treatment approach which may include a combination of lifestyle changes, oral medications and insulin. Each person is unique and so is your treatment plan.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes can come on over time or suddenly. Sometimes, kids dont have diabetes symptoms yet and the condition is discovered when blood or urine tests are done for another reason. Kids who show symptoms may:
- need to pee a lot
- start to wet the bed after having been dry at night
- be thirstier and drink more than usual
- feel tired often
- lose weight
Can Diabetes Cause Hearing Loss
Scientists dont have firm answers yet but there appears to be a correlation between hearing loss and diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, a recent study found that hearing loss was twice as common in people with diabetes versus those who didnt have diabetes. Also, the rate of hearing loss in people with prediabetes was 30% higher compared with those who had normal blood glucose levels. Scientists think diabetes damages the blood vessels in the inner ear, but more research is needed.
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Can Diabetes Cause Hair Loss
Yes, its possible for diabetes to cause hair loss. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to persistently high blood glucose levels. This, in turn, leads to blood vessel damage and restricted flow, and oxygen and nutrients cant get to the cells that need it including hair follicles. Stress can cause hormone level changes that affect hair growth. If you have Type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks itself and can also cause a hair loss condition called alopecia areata.
What You Can Do
Some risk factors of heart failure, like age, cant be modified. Still, people with CHF can take steps to improve the long-term prognosis. The first thing to do is to be familiar with any family history of heart disease. You’ll also want to learn about all the possible symptoms. Don’t ignore any symptom that you think is cause for concern. Tell your healthcare provider about them right away.
Regular exercise, along with managing any other health issues you may have, can also help to keep CHF under control.
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What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition. It happens when your liver breaks down fat to use as energy because theres not enough insulin and therefore glucose isnt being used as an energy source. Fat is broken down by the liver into a fuel called ketones. The formation and use of ketones is a normal process if it has been a long time since your last meal and your body needs fuel. Ketones are a problem when your fat is broken down too fast for your body to process and they build up in your blood. This makes your blood acidic, which is a condition called ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be the result of uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes and less commonly, Type 2 diabetes.Diabetic ketoacidosis is diagnosed by the presence of ketones in your urine or blood and a basic metabolic panel. The condition develops over several hours and can cause coma and possibly even death.
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Heart Eyes Feet Nerves And Kidneys
Blood vessels are located throughout our bodys tissues and organs. They surround our bodys cells, providing a transfer of oxygen, nutrients and other substances, using blood as the exchange vehicle. In simple terms, diabetes doesnt allow glucose to get into cells and it damages blood vessels in/near these organs and those that nourish nerves. If organs, nerves and tissues cant get the essentials they need to properly function, they can begin to fail.Proper function means that your hearts blood vessels, including arteries, are not damaged . In your kidneys, this means that waste products can be filtered out of your blood. In your eyes, this means that the blood vessels in your retina remain intact. In your feet and nerves, this means that nerves are nourished and that theres blood flow to your feet. Diabetes causes damage that prevents proper function.
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Treating Type 1 Diabetes
It’s important that diabetes is diagnosed as early as possible. If left untreated, type-1 diabetes is a life-threatening condition. It’s essential that treatment is started early.
Diabetes can’t be cured, but treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible and control your symptoms, to prevent health problems developing later in life.
If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll be referred to a diabetes care team for specialist treatment and monitoring.
As your body can’t produce insulin, you’ll need regular insulin injections to keep your glucose levels normal. You’ll be taught how to do this and how to match the insulin you inject to the food you eat, taking into account your blood glucose level and how much exercise you do.
Insulin injections come in several different forms, with each working slightly differently. You’ll most likely need a combination of different insulin preparations.
Insulin is given to some patients by a continuous infusion of fast acting insulin . This is where a small device constantly pumps insulin into your bloodstream through a plastic tube that’s inserted under the skin with a needle.
There are alternatives to insulin injections and pumps, but they’re only suitable for a small number of patients. They are:
Read more about diagnosing diabetes and treating type 1 diabetes
Why Is My Blood Glucose Level High How Does This Happen
The process of digestion includes breaking down the food you eat into various different nutrient sources. When you eat carbohydrates , your body breaks this down into sugar . When glucose is in your bloodstream, it needs help a “key” to get into its final destination where it’s used, which is inside your body’s cells . This help or “key” is insulin.
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas, an organ located behind your stomach. Your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream. Insulin acts as the key that unlocks the cell wall door, which allows glucose to enter your bodys cells. Glucose provides the fuel or energy tissues and organs need to properly function.
If you have diabetes:
- Your pancreas doesnt make any insulin or enough insulin.
- Your pancreas makes insulin but your bodys cells dont respond to it and cant use it as it normally should.
If glucose cant get into your bodys cells, it stays in your bloodstream and your blood glucose level rises.
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Type 1 Diabetes Treatment Options
People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin regularly, because their pancreas no longer produces this vital hormone. In the past, the only way to receive insulin was by injection several times a day. Today, insulin pumps can deliver a continuous flow of insulin to the body, which means fewer injections.
Many people enjoy the convenience of an insulin pump, and some of these devices can integrate with your blood glucose monitor to provide the data you need to manage your blood sugar tightly. However, the pumps also can fail or fall out occasionally, and you must always be prepared to self-inject insulin if this should happen.
Of course, insulin injections dont represent the only form of type 1 diabetes treatment. You also should eat a heart-healthy diet, not only to help regulate your blood sugar levels but to minimize the cardiovascular complications that often accompany diabetes. If you have difficulty managing your diet, request a consultation with a registered or a diabetes nurse educator. They can help you create a personalized eating planand help you stick to it.
To effectively manage your diabetes, you also should get plenty of exercise. Sustained physical activity lowers blood sugar levels naturally and can help you keep your A1C levels at the lower end of the spectrum. This might significantly affect your life expectancy, as well as your cardiovascular health.
Diabetes And Healthy Weight
If you are overweight, even losing a small amount of weight, especially around the abdomen, helps to lower your blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
It can be difficult trying to lose weight, so to get started set yourself a short-term, achievable goal. Try thinking about the food you are eating, whether you really need it, if it’s a healthy choice, and consider the portion size. An accredited practicing dietitian can help you set a realistic meal plan and answer any food related questions you may have.
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Newly Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes
It can be difficult to know where to get started with your new type 1 diagnosis, but were here to help you find the information you need.
As well as reading through the guidance and advice on this page, why not try our Learning Zone? With videos, quizzes and interactive tools tailored just for you, its the perfect way to discover more about your diabetes.
“She made me feel normal, when my normal had completely changed.”
– Laura, on being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Read her story.
Can Prediabetes Type 2 Diabetes And Gestational Diabetes Be Prevented
Although diabetes risk factors like family history and race cant be changed, there are other risk factors that you do have some control over. Adopting some of the healthy lifestyle habits listed below can improve these modifiable risk factors and help to decrease your chances of getting diabetes:
- Eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean or Dash diet. Keep a food diary and calorie count of everything you eat. Cutting 250 calories per day can help you lose ½ pound per week.
- Get physically active. Aim for 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. Start slow and work up to this amount or break up these minutes into more doable 10 minute segments. Walking is great exercise.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Dont lose weight if you are pregnant, but check with your obstetrician about healthy weight gain during your pregnancy.
- Lower your stress. Learn relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, mindful meditation, yoga and other helpful strategies.
- Limit alcohol intake. Men should drink no more than two alcoholic beverages a day women should drink no more than one.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep .
- Take medications to manage existing risk factors for heart disease or to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes as directed by your healthcare provider.
- If you think you have symptoms of prediabetes, see your provider.
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