Athletes manage type 1 diabetes to stay in the game

Daily diabetes management can be difficult. However, some individuals with type 1 diabetes who are passionate about playing sports will dedicate even more time to learning how to optimally control their blood glucose levels so that they can become successful athletes.

A recent article published by the Los Angeles Times highlights a number of professional athletes who have effectively managed their type 1 diabetes and overcome the challenges of dealing with exercise-related changes in blood glucose levels.

One of these individuals is retired NBA player Chris Dudley, who told the newspaper that he began experiencing symptoms of type 1 diabetes at the age of 16. He explained that he had developed an insatiable thirst and was making frequent trips to the bathroom, which led him to seek a diagnosis from his physician. He noted that in order to stay healthy throughout games and practices, he sometimes tested his blood sugar as many as 15 times per day.

Even if a person learns how to control their type 1 diabetes on a daily basis, several aspects of playing sports may cause unsafe spikes or drops in blood glucose levels. The news provider notes that some of these include adrenaline, stress, injuries and weather.

"Exercise changes a lot of things, including your requirements for fuel. While you need insulin to get glucose into tissues, you also become much more insulin-sensitive when you exercise and have a greater risk of having low blood sugar, so it's always a complex balance," Andrew Ahmann, MD, told the news source.

The Los Angeles Times noted that Dudley now sponsors youth basketball camps to encourage kids with type 1 diabetes to pursue their athletic goals.

According to the Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association, drinks that contain a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat may help athletes regain normal blood glucose levels after exercise. Experts from the organization also said that chocolate milk, yogurt and ice cream are all good post-workout snacks for individuals with type 1 diabetes.