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Type 1 Diabetes

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How Is It Treated? continued...

Several types of insulin are available.

  • Rapid-acting starts to work in about 15 minutes. It peaks around 1 hour after you take it and continues to work for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Regular or short-acting gets to work in about 30 minutes. It peaks between 2 and 3 hours and keeps working for 3 to 6 hours.
  • Intermediate-acting won’t get into your bloodstream for 2 to 4 hours after injection. It peaks from 4 to 12 hours and works for 12 to 18 hours.
  • Long-acting takes several hours to get into your system and lasts for about 24 hours.

Your doctor may start you out with two injections a day of two different types of insulin. You’ll probably progress to three or four shots a day.

Most insulin comes in a small glass bottle called a vial. You draw it out with a syringe that has a needle on the end, and give yourself the shot. Some now comes in a prefilled pen. One kind is inhaled. You can also get it from a pump -- a device you wear that sends it into your body via a small tube. Your doctor will help you to pick the type and the delivery method that’s best for you.

Lifestyle Changes

Exercise is an important part of treating type 1. But it isn’t as simple as going out for a run. You have to balance your insulin dose and the food you eat with any activity, even simple tasks around the house or yard.

Knowledge is power. Check your blood sugar before, during, and after an activity to find out how it affects you. Some things will make your levels go up; others won't. You can lower your insulin or have a snack with carbs to prevent it from dropping too low. 

If your test is high, test for ketones -- acids that can result from high sugar levels. If they’re OK, you should be good to go. If they’re high, skip the workout.

You’ll also need to understand how food affects your blood sugar. Once you know the roles that carbs, fats, and protein play, you can build a healthy eating plan that helps keep your levels where they should be. A diabetes educator or registered dietitian can help you get started.

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