Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition. Currently there is not a cure for the disease, but there are incredibly effective methods of controlling it and keeping blood sugar levels at a safe or “target” range. Working with their physicians, most people with type 1 diabetes can develop an effective and healthy treatment plan. A type 1 diabetes patient, regardless of age, activity level or lifestyle, will need to consider diet, exercise and insulin as the key factors in their treatment plan.
Insulin is a daily requirement for all people with type 1 diabetes. Because the Pancreas is unable to regulate the flow of Insulin into the bloodstream, and glucose in the body can then reach dangerously high or low levels, a method of testing Blood glucose or Blood sugar levels throughout the day, and adjusting with insulin, must be used. This generally involves a small piece of equipment that tests a drop of blood from the individual with diabetes. Using this information an individual can then determine if there is a need to introduce more insulin into their body. This can be done by traditional injections or by the newer more preferred method of insulin regulation through the use of an insulin pump.

Insulin pumps are remarkably small, self-contained units able to monitor the glucose level in the body throughout the day. Using an initial or “basal” level of insulin, which varies from person to person and is determined by an initial test period, an insulin pump delivers small and consistent amounts throughout the day and a user can obtain a fairly well-regulated glucose level. Manual adjustments can be made for the amount of insulin delivered through the pump at meal times and just prior to exercise or activity. Though these pumps still require the efforts and attention of their wearers, the more stable glucose levels will allow a type 1 diabetes patient to live a life free of the conventional worries and risks of traditional insulin regimens. Insulin pump systems are being hailed as the nearest thing to a fully-functioning pancreas for type 1 diabetics.

Diet is the next key factor in the daily life of a type 1 diabetic. Individuals with type 1 diabetes can still enjoy all of the same foods that those without diabetes eat, but the key to safe food choices is moderation. Any carbohydrates, whether in a piece of cake or a bowl of pasta, must be accounted for and eaten in moderation. A type 1 diabetic does not need to abstain from certain foods altogether, but they do need to work at eating a well-balanced healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, proteins and carbohydrates (spread evenly throughout a day), and to also be prepared to adjust their insulin level to accommodate the occasional food treat.

Exercise is good for everyone, and a type 1 diabetic should include some sort of daily physical activity in their treatment plan. Exercise may also reduce the risk of heart and blood vessel disease in type 1 diabetes patients. They will need to discuss any existing or new exercise programs with their physicians to be sure that the activity level is not too intense or too excessive when first beginning. The body uses higher levels of glucose during physical activity of any kind so a type 1 diabetic will need to adjust their insulin dosage for these events and it is best to consult with a physician about any adjustments in prescribed medicines.

Other important factors in the treatment of type 1 diabetes to consider are the benefits of regular medical exams to monitor and adjust treatment plans as needed. A physician can also monitor a patient for symptoms of any of the traditional complications from diabetes, such as any vision problems or kidney issues. A person with type 1 diabetes should also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol as both behaviors can put an individual with diabetes at a much higher risk of complications from their condition.

The primary goal of an effective treatment plan for type 1 diabetes is the management of blood sugar levels. Following a regular daily schedule with predictable amounts of activity and healthy food will make blood sugar much easier to control and type 1 diabetes much easier to treat.