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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With Complications - When To Call a Doctor

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you are:

  • Unconscious or you suddenly become very sleepy or confused. You may have low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia.
  • Sleepy, confused, breathing very fast, or your breath smells fruity. You may have a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Call a doctor right away if:

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  • Your blood sugar is 300 mg/dL or higher (or it is higher than the level your doctor has set for you).

Call a doctor if you:

  • Are sick and having trouble controlling your blood sugar.
  • Have had vomiting or diarrhea for more than 6 hours.
    • Sick day guidelines
  • Often have problems with high or low blood sugar levels.
  • Have trouble knowing when your blood sugar is low (hypoglycemia unawareness).
  • Have questions or want to know more about diabetes.

Who To See

The specialist that you need to see depends on which complication you have. The following health professionals treat complications from type 1 diabetes:

  • An ophthalmologist or optometrist can diagnose eye disease from diabetes. An ophthalmologist is the preferred specialist for retinal complications.
  • A nephrologist treats kidney disease.
  • A cardiologist or a vascular surgeon treats heart and/or circulation problems.
  • A neurologist diagnoses and treats nerve damage.
  • A podiatrist, pedorthist (a certified technician who can make special shoes or shoe inserts), or an orthopedic surgeon treats foot and ankle problems.
  • A gastroenterologist treats stomach and intestinal problems.
  • A urologist treats sexual and urinary tract problems.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 02, 2010
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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