Newly Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes
It can be difficult to know where to get started with your new type 1 diagnosis, but were here to help you find the information you need.
As well as reading through the guidance and advice on this page, why not try our Learning Zone? With videos, quizzes and interactive tools tailored just for you, its the perfect way to discover more about your diabetes.
“She made me feel normal, when my normal had completely changed.”
– Laura, on being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Read her story.
Now That Youre Checking Your Blood Glucose What Do The Numbers Mean
Depending on your diabetes treatment plan, your doctor or diabetes educator may advise you to check once a week, once a day or up to 10 times a day . But what does it mean when you see a 67, 101 or 350 on your meter? And what is a normal blood sugar, anyway? Great questions! After all, if you dont know what the numbers on your meter mean, its hard to know how youre doing.
The American Diabetes Association provides guidelines for blood glucose goals for people with diabetes, and the goals vary depending on when youre checking your glucose:
Fasting and before meals: 80130 mg/dl
Postprandial : Less than 180 mg/dl
By the way, these guidelines are for non-pregnant adults with diabetes. Children, adolescents and pregnant women may have different goals.
Your blood glucose goals may be different, however. If youre younger, have had diabetes for a shorter amount of time or are not taking any medicine for your diabetes, your glucose goals might be a little tighter, or lower. Likewise, your blood glucose goals may be higher than what ADA recommends if youre older, have diabetes complications, or dont get symptoms when your blood glucose is low.
Bottom line: talk with your health-care provider about the following:
When to check your blood glucose How often to check your blood glucose What your blood glucose goals are
Will I Get Type 1 Diabetes If It Runs In My Family
People who have family members with type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop it themselves. If an immediate relative has type 1 diabetes, your risk of developing the condition is much greater than the risk of the general population . Depending on whether a father or mother has type 1 diabetes, and when they developed the condition, the chance of a child having type 1 diabetes can range from 1% to 12%, or 10% to 25% if both parents have diabetes.
If someone in your family has type 1 diabetes, talk with your healthcare team about screening for the other family members. Discovering diabetes early on is an effective way to reduce the chances of dangerous health complications.
Know Your Body Mass Index
Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. BMI is an easy way to estimate excess fat. Even a small change in body weight can reduce your risk of diabetes.
If your score is:
25.029.9 = Overweight/Pre-obese 30.0 and over = Obese
To calculate your BMI, you can use the BMI chart or the formulas at the bottom of this page or complete the Canadian diabetes risk questionnaire.
Can I Change The Units Given By My Blood Glucose Meter
This can depend on which blood glucose meter you have. Some meters allow you to change the units from mg/dL to mmol/L and vice versa whether some meters are only set up to display one set of units.
Check the meters manual for whether it is possible to change the units. If you dont have or cannot find the manual, contact the manufacturer.
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How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Type 1 Diabetes
Health care professionals usually test people for type 1 diabetes if they have clear-cut diabetes symptoms. Health care professionals most often use the random plasma glucose test to diagnose type 1 diabetes. This blood test measures your blood glucose level at a single point in time. Sometimes health professionals also use the A1C blood test to find out how long someone has had high blood glucose.
Even though these tests can confirm that you have diabetes, they cant identify what type you have. Treatment depends on the type of diabetes, so knowing whether you have type 1 or type 2 is important.
To find out if your diabetes is type 1, your health care professional may test your blood for certain autoantibodies. Autoantibodies are antibodies that attack your healthy tissues and cells by mistake. The presence of certain types of autoantibodies is common in type 1 but not in type 2 diabetes.
How Is Type 1 Diabetes Treated
People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to help manage their blood sugar levels. There are two main types of insulin: basal insulin and prandial insulin. Basal insulin is taken once or twice per day to provide a constant, low level of insulin action it helps keep blood sugars at a consistent level when you are not eating, but it cant cover glucose spikes after mealtime. Prandial insulin, on the other hand, is taken before meals and acts rapidly in the body, stabilizing blood sugar levels after eating. Some people with type 1 diabetes also take other medications to support diabetes management. For an overview of diabetes drugs available today, please see our diabetes drugs resource page.
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How Common Is Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is relatively common. In the United States, approximately 1.24 million people live with Type 1 diabetes, and that number is expected to grow to five million by 2050.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases that affect children in the United States, though adults can be diagnosed with the disease as well.
What Causes Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction . This reaction destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, called beta cells. This process can go on for months or years before any symptoms appear.
Some people have certain genes that make them more likely to develop type 1 diabetes. However, many of them wont go on to have type 1 diabetes even if they have the genes. A trigger in the environment, such as a virus, may also play a part in developing type 1 diabetes. Diet and lifestyle habits dont cause type 1 diabetes.
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Are High Levels Of Blood Sugar Dangerous
Low blood sugar levels begin at 70 mg/dL or less.
- People with diabetes who take too much medication or take their usual amount but then eat less or exercise more than usual can develop hypoglycemia. Although much rarer, hypoglycemia may develop in some people without diabetes when they take someone elses medication, have excessive alcohol consumption, or have hepatitis or a rare tumor of the pancreas .
- The treatment for hypoglycemia is oral glucose intake (15.0 grams of sugar, for example, 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, corn syrup, or IV fluids containing glucose. Rechecking your blood sugar levels in about 15 minutes after the treatment is advised.
Do I Have Other Treatment Options For My Type 1 Diabetes
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has played an important role in developing artificial pancreas technology. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots. A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and glucagon automatically. The system can also be monitored remotely, for example by parents or medical staff.
In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a type of artificial pancreas system called a hybrid closed-loop system. This system tests your glucose level every 5 minutes throughout the day and night through a continuous glucose monitor, and automatically gives you the right amount of basal insulin, a long-acting insulin, through a separate insulin pump. You still need to manually adjust the amount of insulin the pump delivers at mealtimes and when you need a correction dose. You also will need to test your blood with a glucose meter several times a day. Talk with your health care provider about whether this system might be right for you.
The illustration below shows the parts of a type of artificial pancreas system.
Starting in late 2016 and early 2017, the NIDDK has funded several important studies on different types of artificial pancreas devices to better help people with type 1 diabetes manage their disease. The devices may also help people with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
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Severe Low Blood Sugar
As your low blood sugar gets worse, you may experience more serious symptoms, including:
- Feeling weak.
- Having difficulty walking or seeing clearly.
- Acting strange or feeling confused.
- Having seizures.
Severe low blood sugar is below 54 mg/dL. Blood sugar this low may make you faint . Often, youll need someone to help you treat severe low blood sugar.
People with diabetes may experience low blood sugar as often as once or twice a week, even when managing their blood sugar closely. Knowing how to identify and treat it is important for your health. Learn how to treat low blood sugar.
High Blood Sugar Level Causes
Several types of diabetes and medical conditions are the primary cause of high blood sugar levels. Most of which are unpreventable issues but are the reason for a spike in high blood sugar. The causes for high blood sugar levels are as follows:
Causes of low blood sugar levels are very different and are as important to be aware of, as they are in fact easier to control.
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Measuring Your Average Blood Sugar With A1c
Your A1c is a good measure of your average blood glucose control over the past two to three months. The lower your A1c, the better your blood sugar control. An A1c of less than seven percent is normal for people without diabetes. For people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends an A1c below eight percent.
The ADA provides is with a clear range of blood sugar levels next to the A1c percentages.
Can Type 1 Diabetes Be Controlled By Diet Alone
The simple answer is no. What you eat plays an important role in how well you manage your diabetes, but a healthy lifestyle also includes exercise, adequate sleep, and as little stress as possible. All of these factors need to be balanced with how much insulin you take. As someone with type 1 diabetes, you will have to consider insulin, diet, exercises, stress, and more for the rest of your life.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Diabetes Treatment
The main side effect of diabetes treatment through insulin is low blood sugar . Low blood sugar can occur if you take too much insulin based on your food intake and/or activity level. Hypoglycemia is usually considered to be below 70 mg/dL .
Symptoms of low blood sugar can start quickly, with people experiencing them in different ways. The signs of hypoglycemia are unpleasant, but they provide good warnings that you should take action before your blood sugar drops more.
The symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Shaking or trembling.
Hypoglycemia can be dangerous and needs to be treated right away.
The American Diabetes Association recommends the 15-15 rule for an episode of low blood sugar, which involves:
- Eating or drinking 15 grams of carbohydrates to raise your blood sugar.
- After 15 minutes, check your blood sugar.
- If its still below 70 mg/dL, have another 15 grams of carbs.
- Repeat until your blood sugar is at least 70 mg/dL.
If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia but cant test your blood sugar, use the 15-15 rule until you feel better.
Children typically need fewer grams of carbs to treat lows. Check with their healthcare provider.
Type 1 Diabetes Facts
The risk of developing type 1 diabetes can be affected by your genetics i.e. if your parents or siblings have type 1 diabetes.
- In terms of inheritance of type 1 diabetes there is a 2% risk if the mother has type 1 diabetes, 8% risk if the father has type 1 diabetes and a 30% risk of the child developing type 1 diabetes if both parents are type 1
- Within 20 years of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, nearly all of those diagnosed have some degree of retinopathy
There is also a sub-type of type 1 diabetes known as brittle diabetes
Famous people with type 1 diabetes include:
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What Medicines Do I Need To Treat My Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, you must take insulin because your body no longer makes this hormone. Different types of insulin start to work at different speeds, and the effects of each last a different length of time. You may need to use more than one type. You can take insulin a number of ways. Common options include a needle and syringe, insulin pen, or insulin pump.
Some people who have trouble reaching their blood glucose targets with insulin alone also might need to take another type of diabetes medicine that works with insulin, such as pramlintide. Pramlintide, given by injection, helps keep blood glucose levels from going too high after eating. Few people with type 1 diabetes take pramlintide, however. The NIH has recently funded a large research study to test use of pramlintide along with insulin and glucagon in people with type 1 diabetes. Another diabetes medicine, metformin, may help decrease the amount of insulin you need to take, but more studies are needed to confirm this. Reseachers are also studying other diabetes pills that people with type 1 diabetes might take along with insulin.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can occur if you take insulin but dont match your dose with your food or physical activity. Severe hypoglycemia can be dangerous and needs to be treated right away. Learn more about hypoglycemia and how to prevent or treat it.
Recommended Target Blood Glucose Level Ranges
The NICE recommended target blood glucose levels are stated below for adults with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and children with type 1 diabetes.
In addition, the International Diabetes Federations target ranges for people without diabetes is stated.
The table provides general guidance. An individual target set by your healthcare team is the one you should aim for.
*The non-diabetic figures are provided for information but are not part of NICE guidelines.
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What Is Blood Glucose Anyway
Blood glucose, or sugar, is sugar that is in your blood . It comes from the food that you eat foods that contain carbohydrate, such as bread, pasta and fruit are the main contributors to blood glucose. The cells in our bodies need glucose for energy and we all need energy to move, think, learn and breathe. The brain, which is the command center, uses about half of all the energy from glucose in the body.
How To Test For Ketones
You can use a urine test strip or blood ketone meter and ketone test strip to test for ketones at home. Testing either urine or blood is important, but when possible, a blood test is preferred because it gives you and your care team more precise information about your ketone levels. Because urine may have been in the bladder for some time, the results from these tests may show levels that are either higher or lower than the ketone levels that are actually circulating in your body. It is also very important to know that urine test trips degrade over time, so if you are using this method, you need to look at expiration dates carefully.
Your diabetes care team can give you specific directions about when you should check for ketones, but in general, you should check for them when your blood glucose is 240 mg/dL or higher. You should also check for ketones if you notice any of the DKA symptoms listed above or if you are sick it is possible to have ketones while your blood glucose levels are within range .
At-home urine test strips will change color to show the level of ketones in the urine. They typically report results as negative, trace, small, moderate or large. Blood ketone meters will provide a number that indicates the ketone levels. The following ranges are generally used:
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Blood Glucose And Ketone Monitoring
Optimal diabetic control requires frequent self-monitoring of blood glucose levels as this allows for timely adjustments in insulin doses. People with type 1 diabetes learn how to self-monitor their blood glucose levels using a pocket-sized blood glucose meter and adjust their insulin doses accordingly. Depending on whether daily insulin injections or an insulin pump is used, blood glucose levels will likely need to be checked at least four times a day. Careful monitoring is the only way to ensure that blood glucose levels remain within the target range. Blood glucose testing involves using a lancing device to prick the skin to draw a drop of blood, which is placed on a test strip. The test strip is then inserted into a blood glucose meter, which provides a blood glucose level reading. Blood ketone meters, which measure blood ketone levels, and work in a similar way to blood glucose devices, are available to test for ketoacidosis.