Adolescence and early adulthood can be a time of huge change, both mentally and physically. As a young person, you are probably becoming more independent and wanting to control your own life choices and experiences. Alongside going out socially, having relationships, leaving home or starting work, this includes self-managing your diabetes.
Find out how to fit diabetes in to your life and read our top tips.
• Keeping things under control
Eating what food you want and exercising is fine, as long as you understand what the consequences are for your blood glucose levels and make sure you keep them under control. Keep monitoring your blood glucose and adjust your insulin dose as needed. Know the basics about blood glucose, insulin and HbA1c.
Try to keep some snacks and insulin with you at all times – life can be unpredictable and you might find yourself staying out later than you think, missing meals or going for that exercise goal.
• Managing stress
Don’t struggle alone – feeling stressed, down or depressed is not uncommon. It’s OK to ask for help from friends, family or professionals when things get too much – most people do at some point; and you might want to talk to other people with type 1 diabetes who are facing similar challenges to you.
• Dealing with relationships
Parents can seem to be interfering – remember that it’s only because they care. The more you show them that you can self-manage your diabetes well, the more they are likely to stop worrying about you.
When you’re out and about socially or at school, college or work, tell people about your diabetes – it’s better to have people around you who know you have diabetes and can help you to self-manage. You’ll probably already know, or will soon learn, what a hypo (low) or hyper (high) feels like – make sure your friends can recognise the symptoms so they can help you if they need to.
If you are dating, you may have to decide if and when to tell a partner that you have diabetes. In most cases, people are really supportive and it helps to be open about your daily routine so that you can relax about your medication needs.
• Staying safe
Having diabetes doesn’t stop you from driving, but make sure your blood glucose levels are OK before you start out and keep snacks and glucose with you on long journeys. If you feel a low blood glucose – pull over, treat your sugar level and wait until your blood glucose has returned back to normal levels.
Drinking alcohol is fine as long as you keep to the basic rules of blood glucose control. Alcohol can increase the risk of hypoglycaemia and mask its effects so that you won’t be aware that it is developing. You might also forget to test your blood glucose or take your insulin when you have been drinking so maybe set a reminder on your phone.
If you move away from home you’ll need to arrange a new doctor and organise adequate supplies of medication at all times. Get used to planning medication supplies in advance and get family or friends to remind you, or set a reminder on your mobile phone.
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