Type-1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in younger people or children, although it can occur later on in life as well. It is different from type 2 diabetes in that it is caused by the body killing off the cells that produce insulin, which usually enable the body to process sugar (glucose) in the diet to be used as energy. Sugar passes out in the urine instead. People then need to pass urine more frequently, often feel thirsty, and tired all the time. Type 1 diabetes is not related to body size, which is normally a factor in type 2 diabetes.

The treatment mainly centres on replacing the insulin, and making sure that your food intake is carefully managed, to keep the blood glucose as stable as possible. This can be done by injecting insulin regularly, or if this still doesn’t manage to control the fluctuating levels of glucose in the blood, a diabetes pump may be used. Sometimes it is necessary to use continuous glucose monitoring, with a sensor detecting glucose levels just below the skin. There is more information about this on the NHS: Home.website Most people need to do finger-pricks and inject insulin regularly. Sometimes the need for this is hard for people to accept, and their diabetes can then be difficult to control. A patient like this recorded a video of how he used Flo telehealth to help him do these regular checks and injections (See below) There is also a video of how Flo works, and one where Flo is used in the Western Isles of Scotland for a patient with type 1 diabetes.

Technology is already a part of life for this group, and using it for health is not as challenging as it can be for some older groups of patients. See below how Laura has found social media helpful in managing her diabetes. Some unregulated social media sites can be confusing or unhelpful if participants who have their own emotional problems or unusual remedies have a large input into the information that is shared. Where possible, using sites which have a health professional overseeing the content is preferable. Joining the diabetes UK forum is a more reliable option than a random Google search, which may produce material from other countries with different approaches to treatment. Facebook groups may be set up by clinicians to provide local support for patients with type 1 diabetes, They can give general information, but would not answer direct clinical questions from an individual. However, patients can share their concerns and support each other, as with groups already established (see the video below of how Facebook has helped patients with atrial fibrillation).

In the near future, follow-up appointments by Skype are likely to be more common, and this may appeal to busy younger people, who find it difficult to fit in appointments within the working day. To be able to talk to their GP or nurse by Skype from a private place in their place of work could be much more convenient than leaving their job early, and risk missing an appointment because of transport problems. There is a video below of a specialist diabetes nurse having a follow-up appointment with a patient by Skype.

There are some really good apps to help you manage type 1 diabetes. You can find some of these in the ‘Useful apps for managing type 1 diabetes’ section below.