Type 1 Diabetes—Treatment is a Lifestyle

Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is a disease where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to control blood sugar levels. Without insulin, glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood because it cannot enter cells to produce energy. The body produces glucose and gets glucose from foods like bread, fruit, pasta, and milk.

Usually, type 1 diabetes appears in childhood or adolescence but adults can sometimes develop the condition. Genetics and others conditions may contribute to the disease but the cause of type 1 diabetes is not known. It is not preventable.

There is no cure for type 1 diabetes but there are forms of treatment. Those living with type 1 diabetes can manage blood sugar levels with insulin, diet, and lifestyle. By adopting the following forms of treatment you can live a long, healthy life!

Insulin treatments are determined by the doctor. Insulin can be injected with a pen, syringe, or pump. Stomach enzymes break down insulin, keeping it from being effective. This is why insulin must be delivered through injection.The doctor will advise you how many insulin injections you need per day, when they should be timed, and the dose required for each injection. These factors depend on biological details such as age, lifestyle, general health, and motivation. There are many different kinds of insulin including short-acting (regular), rapid-acting, intermediate-acting (NPH), and long-acting.

Blood Sugar Monitoring
Because the goal of treatment for type 1 diabetes is to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible, you’ll likely need to check and record your blood sugar level multiple times a day.

Using a blood glucose meter, you’ll test your blood sugar before meals and snacks, before bed, before exercising and/or driving, and if you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels.

Continuous glucose monitors are also available. These attach to the body with a fine needle under the skin and check blood glucose levels frequently throughout the day. It is not quite as accurate as manual checks so it is still important to use your blood glucose meter.

Because the body gets glucose from foods, it is important to try to eat healthy when living with type 1 diabetes. You’ll want to focus your diet on nutritious, low-fat, high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid refined carbohydrates and eat fewer animal products.

Physical Activity
Exercise is good for everyone, not just people with type 1 diabetes. Practice regular physical activity, keep a healthy body weight and do your best to manage stress. Choose things that you enjoy, like swimming or walking, and make them a part of your routine. Physical activity lowers blood sugar. If you’re new to an activity, check your blood sugar more often to figure out how the activity affects it. Depending on how your blood sugar reacts, you may need to adjust your meals and/or insulin doses.

With careful management, type 1 diabetes is a manageable disease. There are support groups available online and in person that can provide other insight into living with type 1 diabetes.


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