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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease - Treatment Overview

The goal of treatment for type 1 diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels within a target range and to reduce the risk for complications. Daily diabetes care and regular medical checkups will help you stay healthy.

Keeping your blood sugar in a target range is the best way to reduce your chance of diabetes complications.

A target-range blood sugar level is 70 mg/dL to 130 mg/dL before eating or less than 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours after eating. It also may be measured as a hemoglobin A1c of less than 7%. This is a test of your blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months.

Daily care

Your daily care includes:

  • Giving yourself insulin shots or using an insulin pump.
  • Checking your blood sugar.
  • Dealing with low blood sugar from insulin.
  • Preventing high blood sugar emergencies.
  • Counting carbohydrate grams or using a plate format for eating.
  • Taking care of your feet.

You will also need to:

  • Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate exercise. Take steps to exercise safely. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you are active. This is very important when it’s hot out and when you do intense exercise. It may help to keep track of your exercise on an activity logform.gif(What is a PDF document?).
  • 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 die from heart and blood vessel diseases.5
  • Control your blood pressure. Blood pressure should be less than 130/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in people with diabetes. Moderate exercise, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week, can help lower blood pressure. But you may need to take one or more medicines-such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)-to achieve your goal.5
  • Control your cholesterol. A low-fat diet, exercise, and weight loss can lower your cholesterol. Your body needs insulin to process fats, as it does with carbohydrate. If your diabetes is poorly controlled, the fats in your blood (especially triglycerides) can rise a lot. You should strive for a goal of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or aim for keeping it at 70 mg/dL, for low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol. HDL should be more than 40 mg/dL for men and more than 50 mg/dL for women. Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dL. You may need to take lipid-lowering medicines, such as statins, to reach your goals.5
  • Not smoke. Or, if you have a teen with diabetes, encourage him or her not to smoke.
  • Take precautions when you are driving and not drive if your blood sugar is below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
  • Take care of your skin and your teeth and gums.
  • Know what to do when you are sick.
  • Learn how to prevent problems while traveling.
  • Grieve the things you feel that you have lost because you have diabetes.
  • Limit your alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for women (none if you are pregnant) and 2 drinks a day for men. Discuss with your doctor whether you should drink alcohol.
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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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