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Type 1 Diabetes in Adults: New Diagnosis

AMBULATORY CARE:

Type 1 diabetes

is a disease that affects how your body makes insulin and uses glucose (sugar). Normally, when the blood sugar level increases, the pancreas makes more insulin. Insulin helps move sugar out of the blood so it can be used for energy. Type 1 diabetes develops because the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin. The pancreas cannot make enough insulin, so the blood sugar level continues to rise. A family history of type 1 diabetes may increase your risk for diabetes. Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • More thirst than usual
  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger most of the time
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Blurred vision

Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You cannot be woken.

Call your doctor or diabetes care team immediately if:

  • Your blood sugar level is above 240 mg/dL and does not come down with treatment.
  • You have signs of high blood sugar levels, such as blurred or double vision.
  • You have signs of high ketone levels, such as breath has a fruity, sweet smell, or your breathing is shallow.
  • You have symptoms of a low blood sugar level, such as trouble thinking, sweating, or a pounding heartbeat.
  • Your blood sugar level is lower than normal and it does not improve with treatment.

Call your doctor or diabetes care team if:

  • Your blood sugar levels are higher than your target goals.
  • You often have low blood sugar levels.
  • Your skin is red, dry, warm, or swollen.
  • You have a wound that does not heal.
  • You have trouble coping with your illness or you feel anxious or depressed.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Your diabetes care team:

Your team may include physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. It may also include nurses, dietitians, exercise specialists, pharmacists, dentists, and podiatrists. Family members, or others who are close to you, may also be part of the team. You and your team will make goals and plans to manage diabetes and other health problems. The plans and goals will be specific to your needs.

Diabetes education:

Diabetes education will start right away if your diagnosis is new. Diabetes education may also happen later to refresh your memory. Members of your diabetes care team teach you the following:

  • How to check your blood sugar level: You will learn what your blood sugar level should be. You will be given information on when to check your blood sugar level. You will learn what to do if your level is too high or too low. Write down the times of your checks and your levels. Take them to all follow-up appointments.
  • About insulin: Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin. Insulin may be injected multiple times in a day, or given through an insulin pump. You and your care team provider will discuss which method is best for you. You or a family member will be taught how to give insulin injections if this is the best method for you. Your family member can give you the injections if you are not able. You will learn how much insulin you need and what times to inject insulin. You will be taught when to not give insulin. You will also be taught how to match the right amount of insulin with blood sugar levels, amount of activity, and amount of carbohydrates. How to dispose of needles and syringes will also be taught.
  • About nutrition: A dietitian will help you make a meal plan to keep your blood sugar level steady. You will learn how food affects your blood sugar levels. You will also learn to keep track of sugar and starchy foods (carbohydrates). The dietitian will tell you not to skip meals. Your blood sugar level may drop too low if you have taken insulin and do not eat.
  • Exercise and diabetes: You will learn why physical activity is important. You and your provider will make a plan for your activity. Your provider will tell you what a healthy weight will be for you. He or she will help you make a plan to get to that weight and stay there.

Know the risks if you choose to drink alcohol:

Alcohol can cause your blood sugar levels to be low if you use insulin. Alcohol can cause high blood sugar levels and weight gain if you drink too much. Women 21 years or older and men 65 years or older should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men aged 21 to 64 years should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Do not smoke:

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage and make it more difficult to manage your diabetes. Ask your care team provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine.

Wear medical alert identification:

Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have diabetes. Ask your care team provider where to get these items.

Medical Alert Jewelry

Vaccines:

You have a higher risk for serious illness if you get the flu, pneumonia, COVID-19, or hepatitis. Ask your if you should get a flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis B vaccine, and when to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Follow up with your care team providers as directed:

You will need to return to have your blood sugar level checked. Your levels will let your care team know if your treatment plan is working for you. Care team providers will continue to teach you about diabetes. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits. Talk to your care team if you cannot afford your medicine.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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