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Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

When it comes to type 1 diabetes there are no preventative measures that can be taken to stave off the disease.  At this point in time there is no sure fire way to predict who might be susceptible to type 1 diabetes.  However, by monitoring and controlling glucose levels and managing lifestyle changes, the prognosis of living a happy, fulfilled life is excellent. 

Controlling and managing type 1 diabetes is a joint effort involving a physician, dietician, parents, and the child all working together to create a normal and healthy lifestyle for the child. The number one goal of treating a child with type 1 diabetes is to keep the blood sugar levels within the normal range or as close to it as possible. The first thing on the daily regimen is checking the blood sugar levels periodically using a meter.  Doctors may recommend a certain brand, but they all basically do the same thing.  After the hands are washed and dried, a tiny needle, called a lancet, pricks the finger.  A drop of blood is placed on the glucose meter and the level of glucose in the blood is given. Monitoring blood sugar levels throughout the day provides much needed information.  Parents may want to keep a log of the readings in a notebook charting the date, time and the number revealed.    

Daily insulin injections are required to maintain a normal glucose level that falls somewhere between 70 - 120.  At regular intervals throughout the day, injections of insulin are given to control blood sugar. Even children learn, over time, how to give themselves injections by inserting the needle just below the surface of the skin.  The doctor will determine which insulin to use and how often a child needs injections by examining certain criteria such as the age of the child, how healthy the child is, the scope of the disease as well as how much tolerance the child may have for various medications and procedures.  Parent's opinions and thoughts weigh in on the ultimate decision made by the physician.  A newer route to controlling glucose levels is the insulin pump and is available to some patients.  The insulin pump is a small device about the size of a pager that administers insulin continuously throughout the day and night via a tiny tube inserted just beneath the skin.  This is as close as science has come to copying the functions of an insulin- producing pancreas.

Ensuring the child receives the proper dose of insulin each day tops the list of controlling type 1 diabetes.  Lifestyle changes will greatly increase a child with type 1 diabetes chances of living a normal life.  The importance of a well-balanced diet using all the food groups keeps the body in optimal health. If you're not sure how to proceed after a visit with a doctor, make an appointment to see a dietician.  She/he will assist you in planning out menus and ideas that best suit your child.  Scheduling meals at specific times including snacks becomes a significant part of planning meals.  Keep a watchful eye on the intake of carbohydrates, especially sugar.  Talk to your doctor and dietician about avoiding sweets. 

A final key in the control and management of type1 diabetes is exercise.  Instilling a love of exercise in your child at an early age lessens the chances for complications later in life.  Exercise will aid in maintaining weight.  It also keeps blood pressure down and helps to control lipids or cholesterol.  Finally, children need to be active to feel normal.  A child with type 1 diabetes can still do anything that other children do even though their pancreas doesn't work.  

New treatments are being explored by scientists and physicians around the globe.  An artificial pancreas may be an option in the future.  A small device that works like a pancreas would constantly monitor glucose levels.  The potential for a cure is also a possibility that rises before diabetics like a beacon of light.  Scientists are working on ways to transplant insulin-producing cells into the body. Stopping diabetes before it takes hold of children with a family history of type 1 diabetes is a well-grounded hope. 

Keeping children who live with type 1 diabetes encouraged and on the right track to a healthy life is what it's all about.  Daily insulin injections, monitoring blood glucose levels, healthy eating, exercise with a lot of love and laughter tossed in for good measure are the keys to successfully treating type 1 diabetes.

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