For type 1 diabetes, treatment involves diet, exercise, insulin therapy, and blood sugar monitoring. Individuals being treated for type 1 diabetes try to get their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. This is achieved through multiple daily injections or the use of an insulin pump. This is called intensive therapy. The more closely sugar levels remain as close to normal as possible, the lower the risk of developing long-term complications.
Lifelong replacement therapy with insulin is the main medication treatment for type 1 diabetes. Insulin treatment needs to be injected - it can't be taken by mouth, as it is broken down in the stomach. There are many types of insulin, classifiable as rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. Premixed insulins are also available; these are rapid- or short-acting and intermediate-acting insulins mixed together. The amount of insulin needed depends on a number of factors, notably:
- your weight
- the amount of body fat and muscle you have
- how much you eat and exercise
Most people with type 1 diabetes take 3 to 4 injections per day or use an insulin pump.
Insulin pumps are becoming more common for treatment of type 1 diabetes as an alternative to multiple daily injections. Since type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed earlier in life, it is vital that blood sugar remain in as normal a range as possible to prevent complications. Insulin pumps are devices that have a small tube (catheter) inserted under the skin attached to a small pump (the size of a pager) containing insulin. The pump contains insulin and is programmed to deliver small amounts of insulin as per a preprogrammed schedule.
Proper nutrition is important, and a dietary plan made in consultation with a dietitian should be part of diabetes care. Following a healthy, balanced meal plan helps control blood glucose. This means watching what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat it. Exercise also helps to improve blood glucose control. Light weight-training with aerobic exercise (such as jogging or walking) has been shown to help improve your body's response to insulin.