How Is Diabetes Treated?
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A person with IDDM must have insulin injections to survive. Without insulin, symptoms worsen until the patient loses consciousness and slips into a coma. With daily insulin shots and a careful diet, however, most people with IDDM can lead active lives with the same ambitions and challenges as those without diabetes.
Treatment for IDDM includes a daily routine of insulin shots or use of an insulin pump. Following a doctor's instructions, a person with IDDM buys insulin and syringes and injects himself or herself daily. (The parent of a young child with IDDM can do this for the child.) More and more people are also using home blood glucose monitoring devices to measure their blood glucose during the day. In this way, they can tailor the insulin dose more closely to changes in their hour-to-hour blood glucose. Blood glucose monitoring is a more accurate way to monitor diabetes treatment than urine testing.
Eating the right foods at the right time is an important part of treatment. A person with IDDM needs to time meals with insulin doses to keep blood glucose from getting too high or low. The foods you choose can play a role in controlling blood glucose levels, too. Increasing the proportion of fiber and complex carbohydrates in your diet and avoiding refined sugar may aid in reducing drastic changes in blood glucose and may, in some people, permit lowering of insulin dose. Foods containing fiber include beans, whole grains, and some fruits, while complex carbohydrates, or starches, include potatoes, rice, and pasta.
Reducing fats and cholesterol can help reduce the risk of heart disease, which affects people with diabetes more often than those with normal glucose metabolism.
Exercise, like diet, can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Being fit can also bring a sense of well-being and strength that has special meaning for someone with a chronic illness like diabetes.
Exercise carefully, though. Strenuous exercise increases the muscles' use of glucose, so it can lower glucose in the blood. At the same time, exercise also stimulates the body to release glucose and fats for use as energy. This stimulus can have the effect of raising blood glucose. In order to exercise safely, you should balance insulin dose, meals, and the timing of exercise to keep blood glucose levels from getting too high or too low.