Driving Safely with Type Diabetes

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When your child has diabetes and is of driving age, he can't just hop in the car and hit the open road like someone without the disease. T1DM shouldn't hold him back; it just requires that he take a few extra steps and monitor himself along the way. (If you're the patient, the same goes for you!) Share these keys to driving safely with diabetes with your child:

1 Know your blood glucose before you start to drive. If it's below 90 mg/dl, eat something before you drive.

1 Keep a source of glucose that won't spoil where you can reach it as you drive.

i Check your blood glucose at least hourly by pulling over and using your meter.

i If there's any question in your mind that you may be hypoglycemic, pull off and test your blood glucose. If it's low, take glucose and make sure that the level is above 90 mg/dl before you resume driving.

Check the stats on diabetes and car crashes

In 2003, seven diabetes clinics in the United States and four in Europe pooled the results of an anonymous questionnaire about diabetes and driving given to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients. The study was published in Diabetes Care in August 2003. Here are the highlights of the findings:

1 Drivers with T1DM reported more crashes, moving violations, severe hypoglycemia, and need for assistance while driving compared to drivers with T2DM and their non-diabetic spouses.

1 Drivers with T2DM (including those who took insulin) had no more frequent crashes than their non-diabetic spouses.

1 The drivers with T1DM who crashed tested their blood glucose less often than drivers with T1DM who didn't crash.

1 Drivers with T1DM who used insulin pumps crashed less often than those who used injections.

1 Nearly half of the drivers with T1DM had never spoken with their doctors about diabetes and driving.

1 Despite the higher frequency of crashes in patients with T1DM than with T2DM, it's less than half the frequency of crashes in patients with other medical conditions that have no driving restrictions, including sleep apnea and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

1 Crashes involving a driver with T1DM are far less frequent than crashes involving a person under the age of 20 as a percentage of the numbers in each group.

Individual states issue drivers' licenses, and the applications don't consistently ask about diabetes. They usually ask about any general condition that would impair safe driving. In California, where I live and practice, the Department of Motor Vehicles requires a doctor to certify that the person with T1DM follows a good medical plan with frequent blood glucose testing, is free of frequent hypoglycemia, and can safely operate a motor vehicle.

You can find out the regulations concerning driving with T1DM at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in your area. Having T1DM doesn't usually have any adverse effect on your auto insurance.

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All you need is a proper diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise and you'll be fine. Ever heard those words from your doctor? If that's all heshe recommends then you're missing out an important ingredient for health that he's not telling you. Fact is that you can adhere to the strictest diet, watch everything you eat and get the exercise of amarathon runner and still come down with diabetic complications. Diet, exercise and standard drug treatments simply aren't enough to help keep your diabetes under control.

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