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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease - Prevention

Preventing high and low blood sugar

Taking insulin for type 1 diabetes helps keep your blood sugar within your target range. But insulin by injection cannot exactly match the minute-by-minute adjustments your pancreas would make on its own. So you will have low and high blood sugar from time to time.

You can prevent many of these episodes by:

  • Taking your insulin as prescribed.
  • Eating meals according to your meal plan.
  • Having a daily routine where you eat and exercise about the same amounts and at about the same times every day.
  • Checking your blood sugar level several times a day and whenever you think it may be high or low.
  • Recognizing and treating high or low blood sugar quickly.

For more information, see:

Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar From Insulin.
Diabetes: Preventing High Blood Sugar Emergencies.

Preventing complications

Keeping your blood sugar levels carefully within a target range is the most effective way to prevent complications. The higher your blood sugar level, the greater your risk for developing complications. A teen who keeps his or her blood sugar levels within a target range can prevent complications from developing in early adulthood.

You can also help prevent these complications by:

  • Having yearly screening for protein in your urine after you have had diabetes for 5 years. This is the only way to detect early kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy). If kidney damage is found, medicine can help slow, or possibly reverse, the damage.
  • Having yearly exams by an ophthalmologist or optometrist after you have had diabetes for 3 to 5 years. This is the only way to check your eyes for signs of damage (diabetic retinopathy), glaucoma, and cataracts. Your doctor may see you less often if your eyes do not show signs of damage.
  • Treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These conditions increase your risk for developing diabetic complications, especially heart and blood vessel diseases.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether you should take low-dose aspirin. Daily low-dose aspirin (81 milligrams) may help prevent heart problems if you are at risk for heart attack or stroke. People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely than people who don't have diabetes to develop fatal heart and blood vessel diseases.
  • Not smoking. Smoking increases your risk for diabetes-caused damage to the blood vessels. Smoking could increase your teen's risk for developing complications in early adulthood.
  • Limiting your alcohol intake to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women (none if you are pregnant). Discuss with your doctor whether you should drink alcohol.
  • Keeping your immunizations up to date. Diabetes affects your immune system, increasing your risk for developing a severe illness, such as influenza or pneumonia. See the topic Immunizations for the recommended immunization schedule.
  • Caring for your feet. Wearing padded, absorbent socks and cushioned shoes can reduce injury to your feet. You also should check your feet every day for sores, hot spots, and cuts.
    Diabetes: Taking Care of Your Feet
  • Wearing medical identification to let medical personnel know that you have diabetes. You can buy medical identification bracelets , necklaces, or other forms of jewelry at your local pharmacy or on the Internet.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 05, 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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