Diabetes Survival Guide
In college there is no one to push you to test your blood sugars or get exercise except yourself. In order to have a successful first year, it is important to balance meals, exercise, rest and studying. Seeing a doctor is an important first step. Here are some suggestions you may find helpful.
1. Supplies and Support
- Stock up on the supplies you will need: test strips, insulin, syringes, urine ketone strips, glucagon.
- Wear a Medical ID.
- Carry sugar with you.
- Be sure people around you are aware you have diabetes and know how to help if you have a low blood sugar. Teach your roommates and friends how to give glucagon. Discuss a plan for sick days with your doctor.
2. Class Schedule
Contact Jim Kessler at Disability Services if you need to make changes in your class schedule in order to accommodate the management of your diabetes. Call Mr. Kessler at 962-8299 to discuss your class schedule needs, such as changing course times or days to allow for reasonable lunch breaks.
3. Eating better food
For nutrition facts, see Dining.unc.edu. For nutrition needs ask to talk to the dietitian in Lenoir Dining Hall - 962.0200. You may want to keep a small refrigerator in your room to keep food items available. Some suggestions for healthy cafeteria foods are:
- Lenoir upper level - traditional cafeteria
- Lenoir lower level - Lite Bites, sub-shop with lean meat choices
- Rams Head Dining Hall - full salad bar, heart healthy choices, fresh fruits
4. Campus Health Services
Campus Health Services offers many services for students with diabetes. Visit early in the semester for a good start.
Check blood sugar before exercising. Learn how much carbohydrate you need to balance exercise (usually 25-30 grams for every 30 minutes of exercise). Tell your exercise partner to give you sugar if you become confused. For heavier exercise than usual, discuss a reduction in your insulin with your physician. For help in developing an exercise plan go to the Student Recreation Center.
For young adults, taking care of your sexual and reproductive health is important. Resources include the Carolina Health Education Counselors of Sexuality, Campus Health Services Primary Care Clinics, and Women's Health. Screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, Pap tests, and contraception are all available. Contraception and planning ahead are especially important for young women with diabetes as normal blood sugar control before pregnancy prevents birth defects.
Falling asleep and missing a meal? Sleeping too late to get all your diabetes care done before that 8:00am class?
- Try "Defensive Sleep": get to bed early enough to stay in control and feel good the next day.
- Be sure you get breakfast after giving your morning insulin. Discuss your insulin plan with your physician: a multi-dose insulin program or pump allows more flexible mealtimes, keeping your blood sugar level if you miss a meal.
8. Serious hypoglycemia
Give your roommate and close friends instructions for emergencies. Instruct them to call 911 if you pass out. It is helpful for them to know how to inject glucagon in case of passing out due to severe low blood sugar. CHS pharmacy 966-6554 or nursing services 966-2281 can help teach your roommate or friend when and how to inject glucagon.
- Stay sober, so you recognize hypoglycemia.
- Ask a responsible person to give you a sugared soft drink or glucose tablet if you seem confused.
- Wear a MedicAlert ID. It could save your life.
- Call a cab. Do not drive if you have consumed alcohol. Hypoglycemia and alcohol both impair driving and judgement.
- Carry sugar.
- Plan ahead so that drinking does not affect your diabetes control or class performance.
If you choose to drink alcohol, remember it may cause a serious low blood sugar even hours later. It takes an hour per drink for the hypoglycemia risk to clear. Plan to monitor and eat during and after drinking alcohol. Carry sugar with you as you go home. Set an alarm every 2 hour to recheck your blood sugar overnight.