Common complications of type 1 diabetes include cardiovascular problems, neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy. Since type 1 diabetes develops during childhood, type 1 diabetes patients are exposed to elevated blood sugar for a much longer time than people who develop diabetes during adult life.
Therefore, risk of developing diabetes-related complications is higher in type 1 diabetes patients. However, complications can be avoided by keeping the blood sugar level under control with proper treatment and healthy lifestyle choices. Treating other medical conditions that occur along with diabetes can also help to diminish the risk of developing complications associated with type 1 diabetes.
Tips for Preventing Complications of Type 1 Diabetes
Controlling the Blood Sugar Level
You can avoid complications by maintaining your blood sugar level close to the normal range. In type 1 diabetes patients, tight blood sugar control considerably reduces the risk or eye, kidney and cardiovascular diseases and nerve damage.
According to the American Diabetes Association guidelines, the goal of type 1 diabetes patientsshould be to keep the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbAIC) level below 7 percent, which is equivalent to an average blood sugar level of 154 mg/dl. Their fasting and the peak post meal blood sugar levels should be below 131 mg/dl and 180 mg/dl respectively. The rigid blood sugar control can be attained through appropriate diet, maintaining normal body mass index and regular physical activities.
The standard diet for diabetes patients contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains and small amount of animal products, sucrose and refined flour. Counting the daily calorie intake is essential for maintaining the appropriate balance between carbohydrate consumption and insulin dosage taken for metabolizing the carbohydrates.
At least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, running, biking and swimming, at least five times each week, prevents the blood sugar from rising to abnormal heights. Physical activities also help to improve insulin sensitivity.
In type 1 diabetes patients, insulin deficiency is compensated with insulin medications. Depending upon the appropriate requirement of the patient, long acting, intermediate and fast acting insulin medications are used for keeping the blood sugar level under control. While recommending the appropriate insulin dosage, your doctor will take into account your diet and activity levels.
Your insulin dose may change over time. Regular blood tests and medical check-ups are essential to determine whether you are receiving the right dosage of insulin. Insulin is sometimes combined with other medications that prevent sharp rise in the sugar level by slowing down food movement through the stomach.
Managing Other Risk Factors of Diabetes Complications
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels tend to aggravate complications of diabetes. In addition to strict blood sugar control, maintaining the blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the normal range through healthy lifestyle and appropriate medications can protect diabetics from strokes and heart attacks.
Diabetics have a significantly higher risk of being hospitalized with flu or pneoumonia. Pneumonia can be fatal in diabetics with cardiovascular or kidney disorders. Annual flu shots can protect people with type 1 diabetes from the pneumococcal bacteria infections. Although a single annual pneomococcal vaccine is sufficient for most patients, sometimes a second shot is recommended for people suffering from a chronic illness.