Your friend has diabetes type 1, you want to be able to help, but you definitely don't want to overstep your bounds or say the wrong thing. You want to be there for them. Here are six things you should know about them.
1. Type 1 Diabetes can Currently Neither Be Prevented Nor Cured
Unlike diabetes type 2, type 1 can’t be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Usually, the body's own immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone people need to get energy from food. Other possible causes include genetics and exposure to viruses and other environmental factors. While type 1 diabetes can be managed by taking insulin and making healthy lifestyle choices, it can’t be cured by losing weight, exercising, or quitting smoking.
2. They Can Eat What Anyone Else Eats
To many of us, diabetes means sugar free, low fat, low carbohydrate diet. When we see our diabetic friends indulge, we get personal. Are they allowed that cupcake, that muffin? Yes. They just need to know how much insulin they need and do carb counting. Type 1 diabetes is about managing the ratio of sugar and insulin in the body. If a food doesn’t have any sugar, that doesn’t mean that it’s their dream food of choice. They can eat what you do, but watch their intake levels.
3. They Need Your Support
It is said that small things go a long way. Know everything you need to know about diabetes so that you do not always have to ask. There are enough resources to get information from. Watch videos, read books and newspapers, and check with organizations that deal with diabetics to get information. The internet has websites, blogs, and videos. When you are together, eat the same foods. You can plan healthy meals and cook together and also exercise together. Ask them where you can be of help, but be sure not to nag.
4. Know How To Respond
Blood sugar spikes or dips may affect how your friend behaves. Worst case scenario, they may be confused to think clearly and not be able to administer insulin by themselves or do basic first aid procedures, or they may be unconscious. Know the symptoms of low and high blood sugar attacks to so you can recognize an impending attack and be ready. Some people do not exhibit warning signs. Learn how to administer insulin shots, when to give sugars and know when and whom to call for help.
5. Know When to Step Back
The diabetic person is in control of their situation. Do not try to second guess issues. It is okay to have no clue and it is okay to ask them to tell you what they do in certain situations so that you can help. Everyone’s signs, symptoms and how they react is different. Some people are not comfortable with everyone knowing they have diabetes so do not try to play a parent. They know their condition and have been managing it despite adjustments in diet or exercise. What you put across could sometimes be interpreted as blame or being pushy.
6. Expect Mood Swings
Blood sugar swings can cause rapid changes in a diabetic individual's mood, such as making them sad and irritable. Altered glucose levels can also make it harder to concentrate and make you feel fatigued. Managing diabetes in itself is already taking toll on them mentally. Often, they are worried about how high or low the blood sugar is or stressed and anxious about the injection pains. Your friends moods will not be in the “normal” range all the time and so you will have to be understanding and adjust whenever this happens.
A Word From Medoozle
Individuals with type 1 diabetes can live a near normal life. They will need to check their blood sugar levels multiple times a day and take insulin shots every day to manage their blood sugar levels. As friends and family, knowing what to do, when and how to interact with them, can make their lives more bearable.
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