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Managing Blood Sugars When You Have Type 1 Diabetes

Medically reviewed by: Cheryl Patterson, RD, LDN, CDCES

Managing blood sugar means keeping your blood sugar in the healthy range — not too high and not too low. Your care team may call this "diabetes control."

The blood sugar level is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it's also formed and stored inside the body. It's the main source of energy for the body’s cells, and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream.

Why Should Blood Sugars Be in the Healthy Range?

Keeping blood sugars in the healthy range will help you have more energy and grow well. It will also prevent health problems in the future. 

What Can Happen If Blood Sugars Are Too High or Too Low?

Even when you follow the care plan and check your blood sugar carefully, you still can have high or low blood sugars from time to time. For example, eating too much on a special holiday or exercising more or less than usual can change blood sugar levels. 

When blood sugar gets too low, it is called hypoglycemia. This needs treatment right away. A rise in blood sugar is called hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia that isn’t treated can turn into diabetic , which also needs medical care right away. Ask your care team about these conditions and what to watch out for.

Keeping blood sugars in the healthy range helps you now and in the future. Lean on your care team for support. They’ll help you boost your skills and confidence in managing your diabetes.

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What Can Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

Many things can affect blood sugars. Some are hard to control, like illness, stress, and homones. Others are things that you can learn to control, such as food, medicine, and exercise. The care team will talk with you often about them.

  • Food. The carbohydrates in food naturally raise blood sugar. So, the types and amounts of foods you eat can make a difference. Your care team will give you meal and snack recommendations to help with this.
  • Insulin. Diabetes medicines like insulin, which lowers the amount of sugar in the blood, affect blood sugar levels too. You’ll learn to balance it with the foods you eat. Your care team will teach you about using insulin, and how and when to adjust it.
  • Exercise. Keeping active is important. Exercise lowers blood sugars and keeps you fit. Find out from your care team the best way for you to stay active and keep your blood sugar levels as steady as possible.

Finding the right balance between food, medicine, and exercise may seem like a lot to juggle at first. You’ll get the hang of it.

How Are Blood Sugar Levels Measured?

Your blood sugar levels will tell you how well the care plan is working. There are two ways to measure blood sugar:

  • Daily blood sugars. These are the measurements you take throughout the day, typically using a glucose meter. If you wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), you can see the blood sugar level on the display at any time.
  • Blood sugars over the past few months. Every few months you’ll meet with the care team, and they’ll send you for a blood test. The results will show how often your blood glucose was in and out of the healthy range in the 2–3 months before the test.

At your regular diabetes checkups, you’ll discuss blood sugar results with the care team, and they’ll update the care plan as needed.

How Can I Help Manage My Blood Sugar Levels?

Keeping blood sugar levels close to normal will be challenging at times. But you can help keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range with these steps:

  • Take your insulin or pills when you're supposed to.
  • Follow your meal plan.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Check your blood sugar levels often and make changes with the help of your diabetes health care team.
  • Visit your doctor and diabetes health care team regularly.
  • Learn as much as possible about diabetes.
Medically reviewed by: Cheryl Patterson, RD, LDN, CDCES
Date reviewed: September 2021