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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease - Topic Overview

Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout your body. This can cause problems with your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. Complications can lead to blindness, kidney failure, amputation, and death. High blood sugar also makes you more likely to get serious illnesses or infection. It's hard to know if you will have complications. Some people are more likely to have problems than others. The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of complications. You are not likely to have signs of complications until you have had diabetes for about 5 years.

Watch for early symptoms of problems. Tingling and numbness in your feet may be a sign of early nerve damage. Eye problems and kidney damage do not have early symptoms. Make sure you have regular screening tests for both eye and kidney problems.

Is it possible to prevent complications?

You may be able to prevent, or at least delay, problems from diabetes by keeping your blood sugar level within a target range. Treatment of high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also help. Not smoking can also lower your risk of complications.

See your doctor every 3 to 6 months. During these visits, your doctor will review your treatment and do tests and exams to see if your blood sugar is staying within your target range and if you have developed any complications.

Some exams and tests need to be done at every visit. Others are done once a year, such as eye exams and tests for protein in your urine. Other tests may be done only if there is a problem.

How will your treatment change over time?

Your insulin dose, possibly the types of insulin, and the way you give it may change over time to fit your changing needs. This is especially true for teens because they are still growing.

The goal of treatment is to always keep your blood sugar level as close to your target range as you can. To meet this goal, take care of yourself, get regular checkups, and keep learning about how to care for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning more about type 1 diabetes:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

  • How do I prevent complications?
  • How can I plan for pregnancy?
  • How do I prevent high blood sugar emergencies?
  • How do I deal with low blood sugar?
  • How do I monitor my blood sugar levels?
  • How does diabetes affect cholesterol levels?

Living with type 1 diabetes:

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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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