Following your diabetes treatment plan requires round-the-clock care, which can be frustrating at times. But realize that your efforts are worthwhile. Careful management of type 1 diabetes can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications. Consider these tips:
Aug. 02, 2014
- Make a commitment to managing your diabetes. Take your medications as recommended. Learn all you can about type 1 diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Establish a relationship with a diabetes educator, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.
- Identify yourself. Wear a tag or bracelet that says you have diabetes. Keep a glucagon kit nearby in case of a low blood sugar emergency — and make sure your friends and loved ones know how to use it.
- Schedule a yearly physical exam and regular eye exams. Your regular diabetes checkups aren't meant to replace yearly physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications, as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.
Keep your immunizations up to date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year. Your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends hepatitis B vaccination if you haven't previously been vaccinated against hepatitis B and you're an adult ages 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you're age 60 or older and have diabetes and haven't previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you.
- Pay attention to your feet. Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Dry them gently, especially between the toes. Moisturize your feet with lotion. Check your feet every day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness or swelling. Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that doesn't heal.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Medication may be needed, too.
- If you smoke or use other forms of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of diabetes complications, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage and kidney disease. In fact, smokers who have diabetes are three times more likely to die prematurely than are nonsmokers who have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop smoking or to stop using other types of tobacco.
- If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Alcohol can cause either high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and if you eat at the same time. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation and always with a meal. And be sure to check your blood sugar levels before going to sleep.
Take stress seriously. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which can stress and frustrate you even more.
Take a step back and set some limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep.
- Standards of medical care in diabetes — 2014. Diabetes Care. 2014;37:s14.
- Papadakis MA, ed., et al. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2014. 53rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed April 27, 2014.
- Atkinson MA, et al. Type 1 diabetes. The Lancet. 2014;383:69.
- Levitsky LL, et al. Epidemiology, presentation, and diagnosis of type 1 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 27, 2014.
- Diabetes mellitus (DM). The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine_and_metabolic_disorders/diabetes_mellitus_and_disorders_of_carbohydrate_metabolism/diabetes_mellitus_dm.html. Accessed April 29, 2014.
- Peyser T, et al. The artificial pancreas: Current status and future prospects in the management of diabetes. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2014;1311:102.
- Bergenstal RM, et al. Threshold-based insulin-pump interruption for reduction of hypoglycemia. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:224.
- Levitsky LL, et al. Special situations in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 27, 2014.
- Hyperglycemia (High blood glucose). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hyperglycemia.html. Accessed April 29, 2014.
- DKA (ketoacidosis) and ketones. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ketoacidosis-dka.html. Accessed April 29, 2014.
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