Living with Type 1 Diabetes

As of yet, there is no single way to help prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes. The main type of treatment is insulin replacement, however transplants can provide some degree of a cure. The major problems associated with diabetes are due to the high blood sugar concentrations that can occur if you have poor glycaemic control. These are problems such as retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy and blood vessel complications such as macrovascular complications and microvascular complications.

When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will stress the importance of good blood sugar control, as doing do can prevent many future complications. By closely monitoring your sugar levels, you can help yourself stay healthy and well when you have diabetes.

Having diabetes can be hard at times and you may need help and support from a number of people. It is vital that you also try to help yourself, by following any advice you are given. There are a number of problems that occur alongside diabetes, which can be worsened by poor blood glucose control. These are called co-morbidities and are a significant cause of diabetic deaths. The main co-morbidities are:

  • Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)
  • Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident)
  • Kidney Failure (End Stage Renal Disease)

There are a number of ways that you can help decrease your risk of developing any major co-morbidities. The major risk for having a having a heart attack is atherosclerosis, which is narrowing of your arteries and veins when fat builds up. The rate that this occurs is rapidly increased by poor blood sugar control. It is also increased by having a high level of fat in your diet and smoking. To decrease your risk of having a heart attack, you should:

  • Control you blood sugar well
  • Take plenty of exercise
  • Have a low fat diet
  • If you smoke try to stop
  • Have treatment to decrease your blood pressure

By following these steps, you can also help decrease your risk of having a stroke. If you are overweight, you should also try to lose weight as this will decrease your co-morbidities. Your doctor will also give you tips and advice on how to decrease your blood pressure as this will be beneficial in helping to decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. The most common advice is:

  • Decrease your salt intake
  • Take some medication, usually statins
  • Take regular exercise
  • Decrease your fat intake

To help decrease your risk of developing nephropathy, you should ensure that you control your blood glucose as well as you can. By doing so it prevents your kidney filter from becoming damaged.

By following all the general steps above, not only will it help to decrease your risk of developing the complications associated with diabetes, but it will also improve your general health.

Another major complication of diabetes, diabetic foot, can be prevented by ensuring that you spend time inspecting and caring for your feet every day.

Apart from decreasing your risk of developing other co-morbidities, you should also learn how to look after your body when you have diabetes. This includes:

  • Monitoring your glucose levels regularly
  • Learning how to inject insulin
  • Knowing the signs and treatment of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia (low and high blood sugar)
  • Attend any screening appointments

All this information should be used in conjunction with that given by your doctor to help keep you in the best health possible.

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