Complications to Be Aware Of
Type 1 diabetes is a disease that, if ignored and not managed well, will cause very serious complications. Many type 1 diabetics will experience some complications in their life even if they are decently managed.
Complications occur when blood glucose levels are too high for an extended period of time or if low blood sugar episodes arise too often. Here are lists of the complications associated with high and low blood sugar.
Complications of high blood sugar levels:
- Eye damage (Diabetic retinopathy, can lead to blindness)
- Kidney disease
- Amputation caused by nerve damage
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Urinary tract infections
Complications of low blood sugar levels:
- Brain damage
- Worsened memory and cognitive health
Sadly, these complications are very real, and many type 1 diabetics will develop at least one of these complications after 25 years of living with type 1 diabetes. This is why careful management is so critical to thriving and living a long life with diabetes.
On average, type 1 diabetic females live 13 years less than females without type 1 diabetes, and males with type 1 diabetes live 11 years less. These numbers are being improved quickly with newer technologies always hitting the market and scientific advancements being made to optimize the function of insulin.
Over the past 30 years, death rates associated with type 1 diabetes have dramatically been reduced as well as the rate of serious complications.
Recently, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and flash glucose monitors (FGMs) have become popular and more widely available for type 1 diabetics, this new technology is a game changer for management and is helping this generation of type 1 diabetes avoid complications. We are lucky to be living in a time that has so many amazing diabetes technologies available to make our lives healthier and longer.
Tips for Living With Type 1 Diabetes
Once diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, there isn’t any way of getting rid of it. A person living with type 1 diabetes will have to manage the disease for the rest of their life. That means taking insulin every day, calculation dosages, measuring carbohydrates, being mindful of exercise and routine changes in day to day life.
Living healthfully with type 1 diabetes requires a complete lifestyle adjustment and acceptance of the disease, and getting to a place of proper management can take some time. It is important to invest in your health and not let bad blood sugar days affect your mental health too much, they are inevitable, and they will happen.
Looking at a bad blood sugar day as a learning experience and a lesson on how to get better instead of beating yourself up about it will help in the short and long term. Doing your own research and figuring out the best management hacks that work for your body is so key to living life to the fullest as a person with type 1 diabetes.
Is it a good idea to seek psychotherapy when first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Half the battles when getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is the mental aspect of accepting that your reality is entirely different now. Many clinics offer therapy and resources to those recently diagnosed.
Here are a few ways to improve your overall lifestyle with type 1 diabetes:
Finding a diet and workout plan that works for you and your diabetes is key. It took me years to find a way of eating that helps my body as a whole.
There are many different ways to eat as a type 1 diabetic that may work for you including low-carb/high-fat, low-carb/high-protein, whole foods plant-based, high-carb/low-fat.
Test Your Blood Sugars Often
At the beginning of a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, test your blood sugar often and look into getting a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or flash glucose monitor (FGM). Knowing what is going on with your blood sugar is vital for making smart food and activity choices.
A CGM or FMG is a great choice because it allows you to see your blood sugar levels every five minutes without pricking your fingers. It also allows you to see trends and predictions on what direction your blood sugar levels are heading. Having one of these devices is like taking blinders off to your blood sugar levels and allows you to make more informed decision in your day-to-day life.
Remember that multiple things may affect your blood sugars. Food and exercise are the most obvious, but may not always be the reason you’re experiencing unpredictable blood sugar. Some other factors include stress, lack of or excess sleep, dehydration, adrenaline, and hormones.
Find Support and Community
Out of all people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus only about four to five percent have type 1 diabetes. That means that the chances of you randomly having a friend or knowing someone closely with type 1 diabetes are quite slim.
It’s so important to seek out your tribe online, and chances are you’ll find a community of beautiful humans all living with the same struggles as you who are open and willing to talk about issues relating to type 1 diabetes.
The diabetes community online has brought so much comfort and positivity to my life. There are also ways to find local meetups for people living with type 1 diabetes, usually posted on the websites of larger diabetes organizations. However you go about finding your community, just do it, your mental well-being will be so uplifted.