Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease (cont.)
Preventing high and low blood sugar
Taking insulin for type 1 diabetes helps keep your blood sugar within your target range. But insulin by injection cannot exactly match the minute-by-minute adjustments your pancreas would make on its own. So you will have low and high blood sugar from time to time.
You can prevent many of these episodes by:
- Taking your insulin as prescribed.
- Eating meals according to your meal plan.
- Having a daily routine where you eat and exercise about the same amounts and at about the same times every day.
- Checking your blood sugar level several times a day and whenever you think it may be high or low.
- Recognizing and treating high or low blood sugar quickly.
For more information, see:
- Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar From Insulin.
- Diabetes: Preventing High Blood Sugar Emergencies.
Keeping your blood sugar levels carefully within a target range is the most effective way to prevent complications. The higher your blood sugar level, the greater your risk for developing complications. A teen who keeps his or her blood sugar levels within a target range can prevent complications from developing in early adulthood.
You can also help prevent these complications by:
- Having yearly screening for protein in your urine after you have had diabetes for 5 years. This is the only way to detect early kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy). If kidney damage is found, medicine can help slow, or possibly reverse, the damage.
- Having yearly exams by an ophthalmologist or optometrist after you have had diabetes for 3 to 5 years. This is the only way to check your eyes for signs of damage (diabetic retinopathy), glaucoma, and cataracts. Your doctor may see you less often if your eyes do not show signs of damage.
- Treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These conditions increase your risk for developing diabetic complications, especially heart and blood vessel diseases.
- Talk to your doctor about whether you should take low-dose aspirin. Daily low-dose aspirin (81 milligrams) may help prevent heart problems if you are at risk for heart attack or stroke. People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely than people who don't have diabetes to develop fatal heart and blood vessel diseases.
- Not smoking. Smoking increases your risk for diabetes-caused damage to the blood vessels. Smoking could increase your teen's risk for developing complications in early adulthood.
- Limiting your alcohol intake to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women (none if you are pregnant). Discuss with your doctor whether you should drink alcohol.
- Keeping your immunizations up to date. Diabetes affects your immune system, increasing your risk for developing a severe illness, such as influenza or pneumonia. See the topic Immunizations for the recommended immunization schedule.
- Caring for your feet. Wearing padded, absorbent socks and cushioned shoes can reduce injury to your feet. You also should check your feet every day for sores, hot spots, and cuts.
- Diabetes: Taking Care of Your Feet
- Wearing medical identification to let medical personnel know that you have diabetes. You can buy medical identification bracelets, necklaces, or other forms of jewelry at your local pharmacy or on the Internet.