After a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and you are told there is no cure, it becomes essential to learn what is type 1 diabetes treatment.
Initially, when our grandson was diagnosed we were full of questions:
- How does such a young child (he was 4 at the time) get diabetes?
- There’re different types of diabetes?
- No cure?
- What do we do?
- Is there a treatment?
- How does this affect his life?
- How does this affect our life?
- Can he live a normal life?
- Can he play sports?
- Can he get a job when he is older?
- Will he live to old age?
As you can see our minds were clearly racing and we had no idea where this type 1 journey would lead our family.
We determined we were all in this together and as a family, we would figure it out.
Since that day we have learned so much and the biggest thing we have learned is that with a few tweaks life is not that much different from it was before.
So let’s just dive in and learn what is type 1 diabetes treatment.
Types of Diabetes
There are actually different types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is the most severe requiring multiple daily insulin shots and is usually diagnosed in children or young adults.
Type 2 seems to be the most common and is typically developed later in life. Usually caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes during pregnancy. The person is not diabetic when not pregnant.
Insulin resistance is typically a precursor to type 2 diabetes although progressing to type 2 can sometimes be avoided through lifestyle changes.
My daughter was devastated when she was told there is no cure for type 1 diabetes.
By following a diabetes treatment plan as determined by the diabetes care team(which includes your doctor, a dietitian, and diabetes specialists) a long, full, and productive life can be lived.
It is important to follow the treatment plan in order to avoid the many possible complications of diabetes which can not only shorten lifespan but also diminish the quality of life.
Type 2 can often be treated with lifestyle changes alone but sometimes medications are required.
Gestational diabetes usually rectifies itself postpartum.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and kills the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
The body requires insulin in order to transfer the sugar from the food we eat into the cells to be used as energy.
Without insulin, these sugars remain in the blood raising our blood sugar levels potentially causing many complications.
It is, for this reason, that type 1 diabetics must take regular insulin injections.
Symptoms occur when the lack of insulin causes the blood sugar levels to rise and the muscles can’t use the sugar for energy When blood glucose (sugar) is high, glucose is lost through urine which may lead to dehydration.
Common symptoms of type 1 diabetes are:
- frequent urination
- increased thirst
- increased hunger
- feeling very fatigued
- blurry vision
- cuts or sores that take longer to heal or don’t heal properly
The symptoms of type 1 develop rather quickly over a few weeks.
In our experience, our daughter noticed that Alex was peeing a LOT, and he was always thirsty. He would gulp down a glass of water as though he had been on a desert for weeks even though he drank water five minutes ago. She recognized this was not normal and made a doctor appointment.
Once at the doctor’s office our daughter explained (he was only 4) his symptoms to the doctor. The doctor then did a finger poke and his numbers were through the roof (27 mmol/L).
The doctor told them to immediately take him to the hospital where they spent the next week.
At the hospital, they did another blood glucose test and also did an A1c test. I am sure they did other tests but these I know for sure.
They received the diagnosis within an hour of arriving at the hospital.
Our grandson was admitted and our daughter called us in tears as she was scared of what this all meant.
We had our granddaughters both stay with us so both parents could be with Alex in the hospital as they learned how to take care of their son’s medical needs.
As for Alex, he just loved the playroom at the hospital but didn’t like all the finger pokes and injections.
This stay in the hospital was important so our daughter and son-in-law could learn:
- to develop a healthy eating and activity plan (they already ate healthy so no big changes)
- test blood sugar and record results
- recognize the signs of high or low blood sugar and how to treat both
- administer insulin
- monitor feet, skin and eyes in order to catch any problems early
- manage stress and deal with daily diabetes care
It is a lot to learn and the fact that they could learn it in the hospital with doctors and nurses right there to guide them was amazing. I am amazed that they were able to learn all this in just one week.
How does this affect our life
As grandparents, we are actively involved in the lives of our grandchildren.
We frequently enjoy having them over for sleepovers and we love having fun adventures with them. We like to go hiking, bicycling, sailing, skating, tobogganing, and any other fun adventures we can think of.
When Alex was diagnosed we were afraid all these fun adventures would come to an end.
Initially, we refrained from sleepovers until we felt confident in our ability to care for his medical needs.
Our daughter taught us how to check his blood glucose, count his carbs, and determine his insulin dosage. She also taught us how to give his insulin injections.
We also learned what to watch for and how to treat hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
We learned how to use the Glucagon kit and when to use it.
Once we were confident we could manage his diabetes we resumed our sleepovers. In fact, we recently took Alex and his sisters for a 3-day sailing adventure aboard our 26′ sailboat. We all had a lot of fun.
With a few tweaks, our life hasn’t changed much.
We still have adventures and even sleepovers with our type 1 diabetic grandson so I would say life resumed pretty much as before just with a few extra things we are required to always have with us.
Frequent monitoring of blood glucose (sugar) levels is an important part of diabetes management.
To monitor blood glucose levels requires the ‘finger poke’ or wearing a CGM(continuous glucose monitor).
If you wear a CGM you will still have occasions where you will need to do the finger poke.
Our grandson wears a CGM but we still do finger pokes before each meal. Now, a year after his diagnosis, our grandson sometimes does it himself.
It doesn’t take long to become proficient and master this skill.
You simply prick the finger with a lancet( after swabbing the area with an alcohol swab) and place a drop of blood on the test strip, The machine will tell you the results.
High Blood Sugar
High blood sugar(glucose) is called Hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose occurs when there is an excessive amount of glucose(sugar) circulating the plasma.
Symptoms of Hyperglycemia can include:
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
- trouble concentrating
- blurred vision
- feeling weak or tired
- unplanned weight loss
- tests high with a glucose monitor
Frequent or ongoing high blood glucose levels can cause damage to nerves, blood vessels, and organs.
Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar(glucose) is referred to as hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia occurs when a diabetic has blood glucose levels so low they require assistance from someone else in order to treat.
It is considered a medical emergency and is a complication that can happen to any diabetic taking insulin or other diabetes medications.
There are three levels of hypoglycemia:
At level 1(mild) the person may experience sweating, shaking, nausea, extreme hunger, nervousness or dizziness.
When at level 2(moderate) they may experience some above symptoms as well as difficulty concentrating or speaking, confusion, weakness, vision changes or mood swings.
Level 3 (severe) is very serious. This is where the person is unable to take fast-acting sugar themselves. They require assistance and may experience seizures, or become unconscious. Treatment with a Glucagon Emergency Kit and hospitalization is essential.
Keep in mind that people may experience some or all of these symptoms, each case is unique.
Learning to recognize the symptoms and treatment is important.
Because a type 1 diabetic doesn’t make any or enough insulin, it is important to count carbs in order to determine the correct amount of insulin to inject.
Your diabetes care team will give you a formula or ratio to use in calculating your insulin dosage based on how many grams of carbs your meal consisted of.
You will soon realize a measuring cup and kitchen scale are indispensable tools.
Initially, you will be reading labels for everything you eat to determine the carb count. In no time you will just know how many carbs are in frequently consumed food.
Insulin may be delivered by traditional syringes, pen needles, or insulin pump.
Work with your doctor to determine the best delivery method for you.
We find the pen needle works great with our grandson and he doesn’t mind it too much.
Keep in mind you will require a minimum of 4 injections per day, every day for the rest of your life.
I know there have been days that Alex has required more than 4 injections but thankfully those days are rare.
It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein and healthy fats like in avocados and nuts and seeds.
Work with your diabetes care team to determine the best diet for you.
Blood sugar levels change frequently so it is important to test blood sugars before, during, and for several hours after exercise.
Physical exercise can help maintain blood glucose levels within their target range.
We have found that regular exercise is not only good for the body but good for the mind as well. It is so refreshing to just get outdoors for a walk or bicycle ride.
When Alex is with us we check his sugars before we go and treat any lows with a quick snack before heading out.
In no time it just becomes your new normal.
There are several complications of type 1 diabetes that include:
- heart and blood vessel damage
- nerve damage
- kidney damage
- eye damage
- foot damage
- skin and mouth conditions
- pregnancy complications
By working with your doctor and closely monitoring your blood glucose levels, following a healthy diet and exercise program, and taking all medications as directed by your doctor many complications of diabetes can be avoided.
What is Type 1 Diabetes Treatment is an important topic to understand whether you are diabetic or not.
Understanding the symptoms and treatments of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia can save someone’s life.
It is important to always follow your doctor’s advice and follow your diabetes treatment plan.
A healthy diet and regular exercise can help maintain your blood glucose levels within or close to the target range.
Monitor blood glucose frequently and treat any highs or lows immediately.
Take insulin and other medications as directed and on time.
Regular meals and snacks are important.
In no time your diabetes management will become a part of everyday life and it won’t be so scary.
You will become proficient in all aspects of diabetes management and will fully understand what works best for you.
Rest assured that by following your diabetes treatment plan you can lead an active, productive, and fulfilling life.
Leave your helpful tips or words of advice in the comment section below. Best of luck on your type1 diabetes journey.