If you have type 1 diabetes, you already know that monitoring and controlling it is vital. Type 1 diabetes treatment remains largely the same throughout your life. If you have a child who has it, they sometimes face special challenges as they learn to balance a more active social life with the need to manage their condition.
Treatment consists of the following components:
Insulin is vital for type 1 diabetes treatment. You may administer insulin by giving yourself several shots throughout the day. Or you may have an insulin pump that delivers insulin 24 hours a day via a catheter placed under the skin.
Pramlintide (SYMLIN®) In addition to insulin, your doctor may recommend that you inject SYMLIN® before you eat to help avoid a spike in blood glucose levels afterward.
Blood glucose testing
You’ll need to closely monitor your blood glucose levels, testing about four times a day or based on your physician’s recommendation.
In addition to standard finger prick testing with a blood glucose monitor, you may also be able to use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Because it’s not as accurate as traditional testing, this monitor would be used in addition to your regular method. It attaches to your body using a fine needle and measures your blood glucose level every few minutes. According to the Mayo Clinic, CGMs are sometimes recommended for people over age 25 because they’ve been successful in lowering A1C levels in this age group.
An A1C test is a blood test that measures the percentage of hemoglobin that is coated with sugar. It reflects your average blood sugar level for the previous two to three months. The lower your A1C levels, the better, as higher levels indicate poor blood sugar control (and a greater risk of diabetes complications).
Since the balance of insulin dosing with eating and exercise can be very challenging for type 1, it is important that you keep a record of what you are eating and your blood glucose levels. Most meters can provide electronic data to you and your physician. This will help identify trends in your daily care. In addition, you can keep a daily log of your eating, exercising and test results.
Healthy eating: Your diet has a big impact on your blood glucose levels. A registered dietitian or diabetes educator can help you learn about how particular foods may affect your blood glucose. They will work with you to develop healthy eating habits that fit with your lifestyle.
Physical activity: Exercise is important! You’ll need to learn how to adjust your insulin and other medication to compensate for the effect physical activity has on your body.
Medical management and education
You’ll get help from your doctor and dietitian or diabetes educator to make sure your type 1 diabetes treatment is working as intended.
These professionals can work with you to adjust your medication or lifestyle changes. They will also help you recognize warning signs of uncontrolled blood glucose (when it’s too high or too low).
If your blood glucose levels are not well managed, major organs such as your heart and kidneys could be damaged. Your chances of developing long-term health problems increase over time.
Constant communication with your doctor is vital to avoid these and other serious diabetes-related issues:
- Heart disease and blood vessel issues: includes heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and narrowing of the arteries.
- Kidney damage: can ultimately result in kidney failure, making dialysis or a kidney transplant necessary.
- Eye damage: can cause problems such as glaucoma and also impair blood vessels in the retina and cause blindness.
- Nerve damage: often affects the legs and feet, but also causes gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Type 1 diabetes is a very serious disease that presents lifelong health implications. But with proper treatment, there’s no reason why you can’t lead a long, full life.
® SYMLIN is a registered trademark of the Astra Zeneca Group.