Type 1 Diabetes Tips

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How is type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes treated?

Over-the-Counter Medications and Diabetes

Many people believe that because a drug, medication or herb is available over the counter, that it is safe to take. However, all medications, including the over-the-counter ones, can have side effects and adverse drug interactions. This is true in terms of diabetes.

For example, many cough and cold syrups contain both simple sugars and alcohol. Alcohol is broken down into simple sugars, by the body. This provides a jolt of sugar into the bloodstream that can cause sudden increases in blood sugar. A rapid fall in blood sugar commonly follows, similar to the effect of consuming a simple sugar, like chocolate.

Some herbs can influence diabetes, as well. Diet pills frequently contain chromium, which increases metabolism. Your metabolic rate impacts how your body processes sugars and insulin. Taking chromium can contribute to fluctuations in blood sugar, and alter your insulin regime, by altering the rate at which your body uses sugar and insulin. This can cause low blood sugar.

As always, with all medications, it is best to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medications that may interact with your disease or your prescription medications.

What is type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes?

Types of diabetes

There are 3 primary types of diabetes:
1) Type 1 - insulin-dependent diabetes
2) Type 2 - non-insulin-dependent
3) Gestational diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can affect people of any age, and tend to be genetically influenced. When it occurs in persons under the age of 18, it is called Juvenile Diabetes. In this type of diabetes, the body is lacking insulin, either from failure of the insulin-producing cells to produce insulin, or an adequate supply of insulin.

This results in high levels of circulating blood sugar and symptoms of hyperglycemia -- warmth and flushing of the face, dizziness, hunger, thirst and frequent urination. This type of diabetes requires insulin to facilitate the transport of sugar into the cells of the body for use as fuel.

Type 2 diabetes does not require the use of insulin, and can frequently be controlled with weight loss, changes in diet and oral anti-diabetic agents. With Type 2 disease, the insulin-producing cells are not producing enough insulin to aid in the sugar transport into the cells, or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced. This is called "insulin resistance."

In this case, medications can improve the interaction between the insulin and the receptor sites on the cells to enable transport of sugar into the cells for use as fuel.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is normally limited to the pregnancy period and a few months afterwards. This may be related to the increased stress, changes in hormones, and differences in diet and physical activity associated with pregnancy. This can usually be controlled with dietary interventions and, rarely, insulin.

Ask your doctor for information on the type of diabetes you have and the best way to treat it.

What causes type 1 diabetes?

Smoking and Diabetes

It is commonly known that smoking has many negative effects on the body, including, but not limited to: lung disease, premature infant births with low body weight, damage to the circulatory system, high blood pressure, and cancers of the mouth and respiratory tract. Effects on the circulatory system include constriction of the blood vessels in the hands and feet, which reduces circulation.

Diabetes also has effects on many different body systems, including the circulatory system. Blood pressure often increases, in those with diabetes, and this results in damage to the smaller blood vessels in the hands and feet, impairing blood flow.

When you combine smoking and diabetes, the risks for blood vessel damage to the extremities increases significantly. With this type of damage, and the resultant diminished circulation, those with diabetes can develop ulcers on their feet, which may not heal well, may become infected, or even develop gangrene.

There are many options available to help you quit smoking, from patches and gum, to medications and support programs. Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your risk of serious complications associated with smoking and your diabetes.

How does insulin deficiency cause ketones?

Ketoacidosis and Diabetes

Normally, insulin allows our bodies to use sugar for energy by opening receptor sites on our cells that allow blood sugar to go into the cell for use as fuel. When there is not enough insulin, the cells cannot use the sugar present in the bloodstream, and they will attempt to use body stores of protein and fat for energy, instead.

Metabolizing fat is not an efficient method of energy production, and it produces a toxic by-product known as "ketones." As ketones build up in the bloodstream, they may show up in the urine, as the body attempts to eliminate them from the bloodstream.

They may also cause the person to become ill. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include:

1) nausea, vomiting
2) "fruity" breath - may be mistaken
for alcohol smell
3) labored breathing
4) frequent urination
5) drowsiness or changes in mentation
6) dry skin, itching
7) thirst
8) high blood sugar levels

Ketoacidosis is a sign that there is not enough insulin to transport sugar for fuel, and must be treated immediately. It is not uncommon for someone to become ill, with ketoacidosis, then find out that they have diabetes.

Once diagnosed, it is important to follow diet, exercise and medication regimes to prevent any further episodes of ketoacidosis, as this can contribute to brain injury and even death.

Talk to your doctor about ketoacidosis and the best way to control your blood sugars.

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Guru Spotlight
Byron White