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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease - Topic Overview

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This topic provides information for teens and their parents and for adults who have type 1 diabetes. Before reading this topic, you may want to read Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed.

If this topic does not answer your questions, see:

  • Type 1 Diabetes, if you want to learn about type 1 diabetes but do not have the disease.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed, if you have been told recently that you or your child has type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease, if your child age 11 or younger has type 1 diabetes. Before reading this topic, you may want to read Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Living With Complications, if you have complications such as eye, kidney, heart, nerve, or blood vessel disease caused by diabetes.

What is type 1 diabetes, and what is it like to live with the disease?

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease that develops when the pancreas stops making insulin. Your body needs insulin to let sugar (glucose) move from the blood into the body's cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for later use.

Everyone experiences type 1 diabetes differently. But the treatment is the same. You need to take insulin, eat a balanced diet that spreads carbohydrate throughout the day, and exercise. Part of your daily routine also includes checking your blood sugar levels regularly, as advised by your doctor.

The goal is to keep your blood sugar in a target range. It is the best way to reduce your chance of having more problems from diabetes. These are called complications.

Taking care of your diabetes takes time and energy every day. It is a big part of your life. But it will help you feel better and may prevent, or at least delay, complications. If your teen has diabetes, tight control of blood sugar levels may help prevent complications from developing in early adulthood.

What symptoms do you need to watch for?

It’s important to watch for signs of low and high blood sugar:

  • Early symptoms of low blood sugar are sweating, weakness, shakiness, and hunger. But your symptoms may vary. After you have had diabetes for a long time, you may not notice these symptoms anymore. Low blood sugar happens quickly. You can get low blood sugar within 10 to 15 minutes after you exercise or take insulin without eating enough.
  • Early symptoms of high blood sugar are increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, and blurred vision. High blood sugar usually develops slowly over a few days or weeks.

Both low and high blood sugar can cause problems and need to be treated. Check your blood sugar often during the day.

What are the complications of diabetes and their symptoms?


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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