Dorm Living with Diabetes
Going off to college and moving into your first dorm is an exciting time in your life. However, it can be a bit nerve-wracking if you have diabetes. Your daily routine will inevitably change and you will have increased responsibility over your diabetes care. The transition to dorm life will be smoother (and safer!) if you follow these three tips:
Let People Know
Tell your residential advisor (RA) and roommates that you have diabetes so they can help you in case of an emergency. During the first few days of school – the sooner the better – let them know that you are diabetic. You may want to give them a basic overview of diabetes, covering the signs of high and low blood sugar and the treatment. Most importantly, if your doctor prescribes you glucagon for emergencies, tell your roommates and RA where you keep it, when to use it and how.
If you don't feel comfortable telling your roommates from the get-go, make sure to tell your RA. You could even contact your RA before school starts and offer some basic information about your needs.
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Keep Snacks in Your Room
Regulating your food intake is crucial to managing your diabetes. Always have snacks available in your dorm room, and ask your roommates not to eat any without asking you first. You want to have snacks that will both raise your blood sugar quickly and hold you over if you need to eat later than usual.
Try labeling a box (with a lid) as "Emergency Only" and keep some food stashed in there; this will help prevent you and your friends from eating all the food you have in your room.
Fast acting sugars will help your blood sugar rise quickly, and are ideal for hypoglycemia. Try to keep at least one of these snacks readily available at all times:
- Fruit Juice
- Regular Soda
- Hard Candy
- Glucose Tablets or Gel
Other snacks are useful if you are running late for a meal, your blood sugar is running on the lower side, or you miss a meal. (For your own sake, please try to avoid this!) Some healthy snacks include:
- Low-fat yogurt
- Hummus with carrots sticks or pretzels
- Apples with peanut butter
- Granola bars (not covered in candy)
- Whole nuts, such as pistachios
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Make Plans to Manage Your Prescriptions
Now that you are off on your own, you will have to manage your prescriptions. You don't want to run out of insulin or test strips! There are several important details to work out, so take a look at our Managing Prescriptions page to get started.
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Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
How is Hypoglycemia treated?, National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC)
Reviewed By: Kelly Reilly, R.N. M.S., CDE
Last Reviewed: July 17, 2013