Talking to Your Roommate about Type 1


Editor’s Note: For more information on managing type 1 diabetes in college, sign up for Beyond Type 1: College Edition, our email series on all things college + type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Whether you are a new college student, a student who will soon be getting a new roomie, or an adult with one or multiple roommates, it is a good idea to have the “T1D talk” with anyone you will be living with!

What is Type 1 Diabetes?!

First and foremost, not everybody is well educated on what exactly type 1 diabetes is and how it affects the body and our daily lives.

  • Explain how you were diagnosed
  • Give a brief overview of how T1D affects the pancreas and insulin production
  • Explain all the things that people with T1D have to do differently, and why! (Taking insulin, monitoring blood sugar levels, counting carbs … etc!)

Introduction to Supplies & Gadgets!

Show your roommates how you use your various T1D tools so that they can have a good understanding of what you have to do to manage your diabetes on a daily basis.

  • Show them your pump, pens and/or syringes—let them watch you give a bolus or shot and check your blood sugar.
  • If you have one, let your roommate see your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and explain how it works (and if you have a Dexcom, consider adding them to your Dexcom “SHARE” list, so that they can be alerted if anything is wrong).
  • Let them know where to find your supplies/where you will keep everything in your dorm room, apartment or house.

The Ups & Downs

We all know that as people with diabetes, we display certain symptoms and behaviors when our blood sugar levels get too low or high. Talking to your roommate about what to expect when you are low or high is important.

  • Explain the differences between low blood sugar and high blood sugar, what causes them, and what’s happening in your body.
  • Let them know how your behavior differs when you become low or high.
  • Explain that you may need your space when treating a low or suffering from a high, and reassure them that it is never personal!

In Case of Emergency

Although it is always best to call 911 and let medical professionals deal with any emergency situation, there are a few things that you could advise your roommates to do in case of an emergency.

  • Let them know where you keep your quick sugar (juice, glucose tabs, candy…) so that they can quickly retrieve them for you if needed.
  • If you have it, teach them how to use the Dexcom SHARE app (if they are comfortable!) and adjust their alert settings for them accordingly.
  • Make sure your roommates have all of your emergency contact information (especially your parent or guardian and a healthcare provider).
  • Go over the instructions of your emergency glucagon kit with your roommates, in case of a worst-case scenario.

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WRITTEN BY BT1 Editorial Team, POSTED 08/18/16, UPDATED 12/24/22

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team.