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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With Complications - Home Treatment

The most important measures you can take at home if you have one or more complications from type 1 diabetes are:

  • Keep your blood sugar within a target range. Keep track of your blood sugar levels with home tests and hemoglobin A1c (A1c) tests at your doctor's office. The A1c test gives you an average of your blood sugar levels over the past 2 or 3 months. The American Diabetes Association recommends a hemoglobin A1c level of less than 7%. Talk to your doctor about what A1c level is best for you.
  • Eat a diet that spreads carbohydrate throughout the day.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Take your prescribed insulin either by injection or through an insulin pump.
  • Do not smoke.

For more information, see the Home Treatment section of the topic Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease.

Other measures to care for and protect yourself depend on which complication you have.

Eye disease (diabetic retinopathy)

Call your eye specialist if you notice any changes in your vision. Vision changes may mean that diabetic retinopathy is getting worse. Early detection and treatment can help prevent vision loss.

If you have severe vision loss from diabetic retinopathy, vision aids can help. Your local or state organization for the visually impaired can help you find these aids.

For more information, see the topic Diabetic Retinopathy.

Kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy)

  • Take your blood pressure medicines, if prescribed. Your blood pressure should be less than 130/80 mm Hg. Ask your doctor if you need to monitor your blood pressure at home.
  • If diabetes has affected your kidneys, limiting your intake of protein may help you preserve kidney function. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how much protein is best for you.
  • Limit salt in your diet because it makes your body retain fluid and can increase your blood pressure.

For more information, see the topic Diabetic Nephropathy.

Heart and large blood vessel disease

Even if you don't have heart and blood vessel problems, you are at risk for them.

  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke and makes many health problems worse.
  • Take your blood pressure medicine, if prescribed.
  • Take your cholesterol-lowering medicine, if prescribed.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether you should take low-dose aspirin.
  • Limit alcohol. Drink no more than 1 drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men. Discuss with your doctor whether you should drink alcohol.

Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy)

If it affects your ability to feel (peripheral neuropathy):

  • Turn your water heater down, and use a bath thermometer or have someone test your bath water to make sure it is not too hot.
  • Don't go barefoot. Always wear shoes, even in the house.
  • Don't use an electric blanket.
  • Arrange your furniture so that the walkways through your house are free of clutter.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 07, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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