The goal of Type I diabetes treatment is to manage blood glucose levels and maintain them at a lower level. Treatment of the disease always includes insulin, but may involve other types of medication as well. Medical professionals sometimes recommend special diets and exercise regimens to help manage the disease.
Insulin is no longer created in the body of a patient who has Type I diabetes because the disease causes the immune system to attack and kill insulin-secreting pancreatic cells. Regulating the body's carbohydrate and fat metabolism are the two functions of insulin, and without an adequate amount of it, cells in the body cannot access the calories in food for energy. Patients with Type I diabetes always require insulin as part of their treatment because their bodies do not produce the hormone.
The kinds of insulin used for Type I Diabetes treatment include rapid-acting, long-acting, and intermediate insulin, and doctors may recommend a combination of them. Insulin is available in pump and injection form. An insulin pump is a small device worn outside the body that attaches to a catheter inserted under the skin. When a diabetic eats, he or she programs the pump with the amount of carbohydrates they will ingest, and the pump automatically releases the required amount of insulin. Injections may utilize needles, syringes, or insulin pens.
There are other medications that are common components of Type I diabetes treatment. Doctors sometimes prescribe pramlintide to inject before meals because it slows the passage of food through the stomach and prevents spikes in blood sugar. Blood pressure medications promote kidney health, which is helpful for diabetics because the kidneys must work harder to eliminate high blood sugar levels. Medications that lower cholesterol are also useful because people with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease.
Special, nutrient-rich diets are usually part of diabetes treatment. Modifying carbohydrate intake can prevent fluctuations in blood glucose levels, and the management of blood glucose levels is a vital part of Type I Diabetes treatment. It is also important for a patient’s diet to provide sufficient energy without including too much fat and saturated fat. The diet also must provide adequate protein and nutrients.
Exercise is a fundamental part of Type I Diabetes treatment because it helps to keep the blood glucose levels in the normal range and prevent unwanted weight gain. Weight management is an important aspect of diabetes treatment because excess fat may cause cells to increase their resistance to insulin. Exercise has the opposite effect, making the cells more sensitive to the hormone and forcing insulin to become more efficient. Patients should check their blood sugar levels often when beginning a new exercise regimen because physical activity lowers the body’s level of blood sugar.