Knowledge is a type of power when it comes to managing type 1 diabetes. The more you know about diabetes, the less afraid you will be of it and the more confident you will become in being able to live a full and satisfying life.
Diabetes is a complex disease, but that does not mean you can’t learn some truly empowering ways to manage it. Here are four ways you can begin building that confidence right away.
Learn how diabetes affects your body
Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which your pancreas no longer makes enough of the hormone insulin, a critical component in turning glucose (sugar) from food into energy. To address this, you will need to take daily insulin injections as a substitute for the natural production of insulin from your pancreas. But that is not the end of the story.
When you have diabetes, the balance between food and insulin is always fluctuating. At times there is too much glucose in your system (hyperglycemia) and at other times too little (hypoglycemia). Both can be dangerous and result in a diabetes-related emergency.
Over the long-term, those with diabetes are at greater risk for health problems that affect the:
- Heart and blood vessels (coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol)
- Feet (nerve damage and loss of sensation)
- Eyes (retina damage, glaucoma and cataracts)
- Kidneys (possible kidney disease)
Though these health complications can occur, the good news is that there is much you can do to delay or even prevent the onset of these problems if you practice good glucose management. The more you learn how diabetes works in your body and what you can to do keep your blood sugar reasonably stable, the better your health.Action point
Find sources of reliable information about diabetes and commit to reading it regularly. In addition to this site, other good sources of information about diabetes include:
- The American Diabetes Association
- The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
- The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
Learn about the diabetes healthcare professionals who treat you
Because diabetes affects your entire body, it is important that you think about your diabetes care as being in the hands of a team of professionals, instead of just one. These are the essential members of your diabetes team:
- Endocrinologist (doctor who specializes in diabetes)
- Ophthalmologist (doctor who specializes in eye care)
- Certified diabetes educator (professional specifically trained to help with glucose management, insulin therapy and other diabetes-related issues)
- Dietician (helps you develop a customized meal plan to manage glucose)
- Pharmacist (helps you choose diabetes supplies or serves as a resource for medication questions)
Go to the American Association of Diabetes Educators website and find a certified diabetes educator near you. Make an appointment and begin to learn ways you can better manage your illness.
Learn about diabetes support groups
Diabetes support groups are a lifeline for many people with diabetes and their families. These are like-minded people who come together to share their knowledge and support each other in special ways. It is a great way to expand your circle of friends and learn more than you can imagine about diabetes-related products, research or trends.
You can often find support groups right in your community. Many of these groups are sponsored or held at hospitals or clinics that work with people who have diabetes.
You can also find many online communities of people with diabetes who come together through online discussions, chats or through organized advocacy campaigns.Action point
Go to the American Diabetes Association website and search for a diabetes support group in your area. If you don’t find one, go to Tudiabetes.org, where you will find many resources for all people with diabetes, including a type 1 forum, related groups for parents of type 1 children, parents of teens with type 1, insulin pumps and a host of other resources.
Learn about diabetes research
There is not yet a cure for type 1 diabetes, but the news coming out of research labs is encouraging. Learning about the latest advances instills hope that one day a cure for diabetes will be available, and helps you feel part of the community of those striving for a breakthrough. Another benefit of staying current with diabetes technology is that you might find a clinical trial that you or a loved one with diabetes could participate in.Action point
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