Tips for those with Type 1 diabetes
When you have Type 1 diabetes, you need to give yourself insulin doses that correspond to the amount of carbohydrates you consume.
Carbohydrate counting helps you adjust your insulin doses based on the amount of food and drinks you consume.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are a type of nutrient found in foods and drinks. (See Understanding Carbohydrates)
When your body digests food and drinks that contain carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose, which is your body’s preferred source of energy.
Link between carbohydrates and insulin
When you consume big amounts of carbohydrates, your blood sugar level will be high and a greater amount of insulin is required to bring your glucose level back down to normal level.
Speak to your care team about a treatment plan personalised to your needs.
What to do when you fall sick
Seek medical attention immediately if you cannot eat/ drink/ take your medication or insulin, or if you are feeling increasingly drowsy or confused.
Keep eating or drinking. If you have difficulty taking normal meals, take snacks or drinks in small frequent portions throughout the day.
If you are experiencing low glucose levels (below 4 mmol/L or your target range), follow the 15-15 rule: take 15g of fast-acting sugars, re-check in 15 minutes, and repeat if still low.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of DKA, please seek medical attention immediately as this is an emergency.
If your blood sugar level readings are over 16 mmol/L more than two times in a row, it is a sign that you should seek medical attention fast for further investigation (e.g., checking ketone levels in the blood, unless you have been otherwise advised by the main doctor looking after your diabetes. High ketones could mean DKA which is a medical emergency.
Be sure to speak to your healthcare team to learn what you should do. A plan would include: when to seek medical attention, how often to check your blood sugar level, what foods and fluids to take during your illness, how to adjust your insulin or oral medication if you need to, if and when you need to check for ketones.
You can live a normal full life and manage your diabetes well
You will be expected to make some adjustments, changes and take medications.
Discuss with your healthcare team to develop an individualised treatment plan that works for you.
Be prepared to learn day-to-day living with diabetes skills such as making decisions about types and amount of food, insulin doses, blood sugar monitoring, engaging in exercise, how to respond to different blood sugar levels and what to do when you feel unwell (Sick Day Advice – discuss this with your healthcare team).
Do not change, discontinue or stop any medication, treatment or therapy without first speaking to your healthcare professional
It is important that you do not miss your appointments, blood and urine checks or diabetes-related complications screening.
Where possible, involve your family, friends, colleagues and others in your care, especially when you are facing different stages in your life such as a new job, planning to start a family, etc.
You may wish to consider help with the emotional, psychological and social aspects of having diabetes.
Expect that it may be necessary for changes to be made along the way.
Where can you seek help?
For more in-depth information on Type 1 diabetes, please speak to an endocrinologist/healthcare professionals or reach out to support groups. You may also refer to the links below for resources: