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Tips for College Students with Diabetes

This is a post by Ana Morales.

A college campus can be a huge transformation after living at home, especially if you attend a large university. It is hard to anticipate the changes beforehand even if you speak to someone who is in a similar situation because everyone’s college experience is unique. However, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind when preparing to leave home and start a more independent life at college.

For the first few weeks pay extra close attention to your blood sugar levels and how you feel throughout the day. Many students tend to change their diet when they are in college, and, not only do you not want to be a victim of the “Freshman 15”, you also don’t want your blood sugars to be all over the place while you’re trying to stay sane during this high school-to-college transition. Also, in many cases you will be walking quite a bit, and this mild yet consistent form of exercise will affect your body. You may have to alter your insulin doses, including your basal rate if you’re on a pump or your injection of long-acting insulin.

Keep in mind that while you may never be too far from your dorm room, you should always be prepared for an emergency. Carry some money with you even if you have an ID card that allows you to buy food on campus. You should also always have a snack with you and some form of fast-acting sugar such as fruit juice. Know your way around the campus and memorize where the vending machines are in case your blood sugar drops and you forget or run out of food/juice. Make an effort to contact your professors before classes start or at least during the first week, and inform them of your situation so that they’ll be more understanding if you’re ever late or absent in the future due to a diabetes-related incident. You should also have a few friends who live on or near campus as well who you can easily contact in case of an emergency. A bonus is if they have a car :] Make sure your roommate knows what’s going on too!

Try not to feel too overwhelmed if your blood sugar levels are a little unpredictable at first. Just be observant and even keep a daily log if that helps you feel more in control. I thought I was stressed out in high school, but college revealed a new level of stress to me. As you probably know, stress also tends to make blood sugar a little higher. Do what you can to relieve your stress, such as taking short breaks in between homework or studying, going to sleep early, eating well, listening to music (check out The Diabetic Girl’s Playlist), or just doing something you enjoy for a little bit. Being sick while at college can also cause stress and is just unpleasant, so try your best to avoid getting sick. Wash your hands often, take vitamin C, drink lots of water, etc.

College is an ideal time for exploration and learning. Don’t let diabetes hold you back from taking full advantage of the college experience. Join a Latin dance club. Attend sports events and show off your school spirit. Listen to a different guest speaker every week. Join a debate team. Participate in a huge art project. Do what your heart desires and do it feeling good and in control of your diabetes.