Managing type 1 diabetes doesn’t stop at the clinic. Keep reading about how you can deal with it at home.
Over 100 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Out of that 100 million, about 5% have type 1 diabetes.
Do you have type 1 diabetes? Get regular diabetes management from your doctor, but don’t stop there. Manage your diabetes at home for fewer complications and better health.
Read on for tips on managing type 1 diabetes at home.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone. Insulin retrieves glucose from the bloodstream and carries it to the cells in your body.
The glucose is the energy your body runs on. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and damages major organs. Without proper management, type 1 diabetes causes diabetic retinopathy and organ failure.
Managing type 1 diabetes is a lifelong process that comes with complex challenges. But with a little thought and a good routine, you can keep your diabetes under control.
1. Rise and Shine and Check Your Blood Sugar
Check your blood sugar first thing in the morning. If it’s too high or too low, food or insulin helps you adjust it. It’s a great idea to journal your blood sugar measurements and insulin doses.
Start your day with a nutritious breakfast. Stay away from sugary cereals. Try some scrambled eggs or home-cooked oatmeal.
Test your insulin levels after you eat and record them in your journal.
2. Good Nutrition
A healthy body starts with good nutrition. Healthy food intake is the most important piece of managing type 1 diabetes. Include whole grains, vegetables, and protein in your diet.
Be mindful of sugar and carbohydrates because they raise your blood sugar levels.
Work with a dietician for a personalized eating plan. You’ll learn to balance food, exercise activities, and insulin dosing for optimum health. Visit the dietician a few times a year to rework your plan as needed.
Be cautious at parties and social functions. When heading to a party, check your blood sugar first. Carry a couple of healthy snacks in case there’s only junk food available.
Drink lots of water! If you get tired of water, try infusing it with cucumber and rosemary. Strawberries and lemon is another tasty infusion for water.
3. Regular Exercise
Along with good nutrition, exercise is also important. Regular exercise stabilizes your blood sugar levels. Your body has a blood glucose response to exercise.
Learn your body’s response so you can predict your medication and food needs before, during and after exercising.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is often a response to exercise. Be ready to treat hypoglycemic episodes after exercise.
4. Take Your Medicine
In type 1 diabetes, your pancreas can’t create insulin, so medication is necessary. You’ll learn how to adjust your own insulin by your doctor and healthcare team. Sometimes more than one type of insulin is necessary.
There are different delivery methods for insulin. These include injections with a syringe or insulin pen, as well as a pump.
An insulin pump is inserted into the skin using a catheter. The pump hangs on your belt, bra, sock or whatever place is convenient for you. The pump delivers a constant dose of insulin.
You’ll give yourself any additional needed doses using a button on the pump.
You can disconnect the pump for showering or swimming, but remember you’re not getting any insulin when it’s disconnected. You’ll need an additional bolus dose after reconnecting the pump.
Check your blood sugar levels at least four times daily. You’ll need a blood sugar monitor and test strips.
5. Good Mental Health
Diabetes puts you at risk for a few disorders. This includes depression, eating disorders, and anxiety. All of these disorders are treatable. Having a good mental health therapist helps.
You might not need to see the therapist on a regular basis. But if you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, don’t wait! Get some help. You’re not in this alone. Many people have type 1 diabetes.
6. Emotional Support
A therapist is great, but trusted family members and friends are crucial too. Connect with a local diabetes support group. There you’ll find new friends dealing with the same issues and concerns as you.
It’s tedious counting your carbs, testing your blood sugar, and dealing with diabetes on a day-to-day basis. Finding friends who understand your struggles is important.
With the support of friends and family, managing your diabetes soon becomes second nature.
7. Be Safe
Never get behind the wheel of a car if your blood sugar is low. A hypoglycemic episode can cause fainting. If you’re not sure how you’re feeling, test your blood sugar.
If your blood sugar is too low, don’t drive.
Watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol is problematic for diabetics. Alcohol causes spikes in blood sugar which then falls. Symptoms of drunkenness mimic low blood sugar.
Someone who has ingested alcohol may feel drunk, but it could be low blood sugar. This could cause a dangerous situation. It’s best to forego alcohol. In social situations, order a seltzer with lemon. This helps you avoid any social pressure.
Wear a medical alert bracelet that informs others of your condition. If the worst happens and you pass out, the bracelet tells them what to look for and do.
8. Sleep Tight
Sleep is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if you have diabetes. If you’re not sleeping well, managing your blood sugar is harder. Blood sugar spikes and dips make falling and staying asleep difficult.
Check your blood sugar before you go to bed. If your blood sugar dips in the evening, try a small nutritious snack before bedtime. Do your best to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Managing Type 1 Diabetes
If you’ve got type 1 diabetes, you’re not alone. If you’ve got a recent diagnosis, don’t despair. Managing type 1 diabetes may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll grow accustomed to it.
Remember to test your blood sugar often throughout the day. Avoid sugar and carbohydrates and eat a well-balanced diet. Exercise daily and adjust your medications as needed.
You’ve got this! Looking for more great information about diabetes? Read more articles here.