Treatment options for type 1 diabetes

Updated at: Jan 02, 2014
Treatment options for type 1 diabetes
Dr Poonam Sachdev
DiabetesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Nov 29, 2011

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition that needs lifelong commitment to:

  • Using insulin.
  • Life style changes such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and healthy eating.
  • Monitoring blood sugar.

Aim of the treatment is to keep the blood glucose level as close to normal as possible and delay or prevent complications due to high blood glucose. Treatment generally aims to keep blood sugar levels between 80 and 120 mg/dL (4.4 to 6.7 mmol/L) in the daytime and between 100 and 140 mg/dL (5.6 to 7.8 mmol/L) during night.

Insulin and other medications for type 1 diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes need a life-long insulin therapy to survive. Oral medications used in people with type 2 diabetes to control blood glucose levels are not effective.

Types of insulin: There are many different types of injectable insulin such as:

  • Rapid-acting insulin such as regular insulin, lispro, glulisine, and aspart insulin.
  • Long-acting insulin such as Ultralente insulin (has large zinc insulin crystals in an acetate buffer), and insulin glargine (a newer type of insulin that has no peak and causes relatively stable blood level that lasts for more than 24 hours).
  • Intermediate acting insulin such as neutral protamine Hagedorn (NPH) insulin (this has a mixture of regular and protamine zinc insulin) and Lente insulin (a mixture of 30% Semilente insulin and 70% Ultralente insulin in an acetate buffer).

Your doctor will prescribe a mixture of insulin types (short and long acting) to be taken throughout the day and night based on your blood sugar levels and amount of control. Insulin injections can be taken as a standard injection or in several different ways such as insulin pen, insulin infuser, jet injectors, insulin auto injector and insulin pump.

Insulin injection: Insulin is given using a fine needle and syringe. It is injected under the skin—in the fat from where it is absorbed into the bloodstream and later goes to the cells of the body that require it.

Insulin pen: The device looks like an ink pen in which the cartridge is filled with insulin.

Insulin pump: The device is as big as a cell phone that  contains an insulin reservoir and is worn on the outside of your body. The reservoir is connected with a tube to a catheter that's inserted under the skin of your abdomen. The pump is programmed to release insulin automatically as needed based on the needs of your body. According to recent research, insulin pump is probably more effective at controlling blood sugar levels than insulin injections.

Diabetes can be overwhelming. If you find managing your blood sugar and the associated problems difficult, take it one day at a time. Remember that many people have diabetes and on working closely with your health care team, which includes a doctor, diabetes educator and dietitian, — it is possible to keep the blood sugar level under control and avoid or delay complications.




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