Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. When the body can no longer regulate blood sugar levels, daily injections of insulin are required to sustain life. While the cause of type 1 diabetes is not known, it is generally believed that environment and genetics play a key role.
Type 1 diabetes, a disease that affects over a million people in the U.S. alone, can create severe medical complications like heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and circulation problems leading to amputation of limbs. Therefore, it’s mandatory that those with the disease develop a good diabetes self management program.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include: excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, excessive hunger, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue and absence of menstruation.
Educational programs are available to help those with the disease in developing their diabetes self management skills. These programs often have certified diabetes educators and dietitians on their staff who are highly trained in diabetes management. When patients begin one of these programs they are typically advised about monitoring blood sugar levels on a regular basis, keeping track of the carbohydrates that they consume, making changes to their diet and exercise regimen and then developing a routine of insulin injection to match their needs. Patients are usually referred to these programs by their physicians.
It is usually easier to implement a type 1 diabetes self management plan for people who maintain a consistent schedule in their lives. Those who have jobs that require traveling, work different shifts, or have others that they have to care for like children or elderly relatives have a more difficult time.
Diabetes self management typically involves the patient giving his or herself daily injections of insulin. Another option is the use of an insulin pump. This device, which is about the size of a cell phone and worn about the waist, is attached to a catheter implanted under the skin. The pump injects the patient with insulin around the clock in tiny amounts as needed. It can be removed when necessary and insulin doses can be easily changed when necessary to keep blood sugar in check. The pump is a very convenient option because if your eating schedule is interrupted the dosage is easily adjustable.
It is of utmost importance that pregnant women who have have diabetes keep their blood sugar in check. While everyone coping with the disease should see improvements in the way they feel, proper diabetes self management is especially necessary for pregnant women because failure to control their blood sugar increases the chances that their baby could have an abnormality.
Having a comprehensive diabetes self management program is essential for the control of type 1 diabetes. As medical science continues it’s pursuit of new ways to treat and manage the disease new methods are continuing to show up on the horizon. While these methods are being developed those with type 1 should continue to do everything possible using current knowledge to keep it a bay and guard their precious health.