When you are first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it can be overwhelming. You will need to learn how to give yourself insulin shots, test your blood sugar by sticking your finger, and deal with the fact your life is changed. You will constantly need to watch what you eat and your blood sugar levels to live a healthy and normal life, but there are ways to make your life easier. Here are three things that can help you adjust to your new life as a type 1 diabetic.
Home Health Care and Education
Because type 1 diabetes comes on slowly, you may not have realized you had diabetes until you began experiencing extreme symptoms and diabetic ketoacidisis. Many people are first diagnosed with extreme ketoacidosis symptoms, including confusion, weight loss, lethargy, and thirst. Some even experience brain swelling, coma, and death.
As your body is no longer producing insulin, it isn't getting the sugar it needs to function, so begins to break down fat to get glucose. When fat is broken down, it releases ketones into your blood. Too many ketones in your blood turns your blood acidic and results in ketoacidosis. If you are recovering from ketoacidosis after being diagnosed, it can be helpful to have an at home healthcare nurse come to your home for several days to help you manage your diabetes.
A healthcare professional coming to your home after your diagnosis can give you the education and training you need to deal with your diabetes. It will be important you learn how to count the carbohydrates you eat so you can give your body an adequate amount of insulin to keep your blood sugar regulated. But, you need to be careful not to give yourself too much insulin as this can give you hypoglycemia, which can lead to a coma or death.
You need to learn what foods will raise your blood sugar, how much insulin to give yourself, and how to deal with a high blood sugar. Your diabetes home care professional will teach you taking a dose of more than 81mg of aspirin or drinking alcohol will cause your blood sugar to fall.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring
While testing your blood sugar regularly throughout the day, you may find you need to test more often sometimes. When you exercise, your blood sugar can fall more rapidly than other times. And, if you are under a lot of stress or are ill, your blood sugar can rise and become more difficult to lower. For this reason, it can be difficult to predict what your blood sugar levels will do and how quickly they will change.
Instead of testing your blood sugar with a test strip and finger stick every ten minutes for an hour to get an idea of what your blood sugar levels are doing, there is a better way. A continuous glucose monitor will check and record your blood sugar every few minutes. It takes the guessing out of what your blood sugar does in between your manual testing. Because you don't know if you blood sugar is going up or down when you test manually, you might treat a high blood sugar when your sugars are already coming down. With more insulin, your blood sugar will fall more quickly, leading to severe hypoglycemia symptoms, including sweating, shaking, confusion, coma, and even death.
As you are learning to manage your blood glucose levels, you may have episodes of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. You may realize you have low blood sugar as you experience confusion, sweating, shaking, and irritability. A blood sugar reading on your testing meter of 70 mg/dl or below is considered low and you should follow the 15-15 rule. Take 15 grams of carbohydrates, such as juice, lifesavers, soda, or glucose tablets, then test your blood sugar again after 15 minutes. If your blood sugar is still low, eat or drink 15 more grams of carbohydrates.
It is important to keep some carbohydrate food or drinks on hand at all times to treat a low blood sugar because they can happen at any time. You may experience them at night as well, so keep a juice box or some sugary candy by your bed. Usually, the symptoms of a low blood sugar are uncomfortable, so it will wake you up if you experience them while you are sleeping.
These three aids can help make it easier for you to manage your type 1 diabetes.