Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
The goal of treatment for type 1 diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels within a target range and to reduce the risk for complications. Daily diabetes care and regular medical checkups will help you stay healthy.
Keeping your blood sugar in a target range is the best way to reduce your chance of diabetes complications.
A target-range blood sugar level is 70 mg/dL to 130 mg/dL before eating or less than 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours after eating. It also may be measured as a hemoglobin A1c of less than 7%. This is a test of your blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months.
Your daily care includes:
You will also need to:
You may also want to know:
How often should I see my doctor?
See your doctor about every 3 to 6 months for the rest of your life. During these checkups, your doctor will look at your treatment and adjust it, if needed. Other exams and tests will be done according to a recommended schedule. After you have had diabetes for 3 to 5 years, you will start having annual exams and tests to monitor for eye and kidney damage.
What if my blood sugar level is very high?
If you aren't taking enough insulin, have a severe infection or other illness, or become severely dehydrated, your blood sugar level may rise very high. This can cause diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is usually treated in a hospital and often in the intensive care unit (ICU). There you are watched closely and get frequent blood tests for glucose and electrolytes. You will get insulin through a vein (intravenous, or IV) to bring your blood sugar levels down.
You also will get fluids through the IV and treatment to correct electrolyte problems in your body. These electrolyte problems are typically with potassium and phosphorous. You may have to stay in the hospital for a few days to get your blood sugar level back into your target range.
What if my blood sugar level is too low?
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) means that the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood has dropped below what your body needs to function normally. When your blood sugar level drops below 70 mg/dL, you most likely will have symptoms such as feeling tired, weak, or shaky. Symptoms of low blood sugar can develop quickly. If you eat something that contains sugar, these symptoms may only last a short time. But if your blood sugar continues to drop, you could lose consciousness or have a seizure. If you have symptoms of severe low blood sugar, you need medical care immediately.
What To Think About
The 10-year Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and follow-up Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) study showed that keeping blood sugar levels within a target range helps decrease your chances of developing complications from diabetes, such as eye, kidney, heart, blood vessel, and nerve damage. As a result of this study, experts recommend that you carefully control your blood sugar. This is often referred to as strict or tight blood sugar control.
If you tightly control your blood sugar levels, you reduce your risk for long-term complications. But you are also more likely to have episodes of very low blood sugar. These episodes can be dangerous unless you treat them early.
Studies are ongoing to find painless ways for people with diabetes to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin, such as through insulin pumps, improved needles, and inhaled insulin. Ways to prevent or decrease complications from diabetes also are being studied. Talk to your doctor if you would like to participate in these diabetes studies.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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