What Is the Honeymoon Period in Type 1 Diabetes?

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on July 24, 2017Written by Lindsay Ross-Hazel on July 24, 2017

Does everyone experience this?

The “honeymoon period” is a phase that some people with type 1 diabetes experience shortly after being diagnosed. During this time, your diabetes may seem to go away. You may only need minimal amounts of insulin.

Some people even experience normal or near-normal blood sugar levels without taking insulin. This happens because your pancreas is still making enough insulin to help control your blood sugar.

Not everyone with diabetes has a honeymoon period, and having one doesn’t mean your diabetes is cured. There isn’t a cure for diabetes, and a honeymoon period is only temporary.

How long does the honeymoon period last?

Everyone’s honeymoon period is different, and there isn’t a set time frame for when it begins and ends. Most people notice its effects shortly after being diagnosed. The phase can last weeks, months, or even years in some cases.

The honeymoon period only happens after you first receive a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Your insulin needs may change throughout your life, but you won’t have another honeymoon period.

This is because with type 1 diabetes, your immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. During the honeymoon phase, the remaining cells keep producing insulin. Once those cells die, your pancreas can’t start making enough insulin again.

What will my blood sugar levels look like?

During the honeymoon period, you may achieve normal or near-normal blood sugar levels by taking only minimal amounts of insulin. You may even be in the normal range without taking any insulin.

The target blood sugar ranges for adults with diabetes are:

  • A1C: 7 percent
  • A1C when reported as eAG: 154 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL)
  • preprandial plasma glucose, or before starting a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL
  • postprandial plasma glucose, or one to two hours after beginning a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL

Your target ranges could be slightly different depending on your specific needs.

If you’ve recently been meeting these blood sugar goals with little or no insulin but that starts happening less often, it could be a sign that your honeymoon period is ending. Talk to your doctor about next steps.

Do I need to take insulin?

Don’t stop taking insulin on your own during your honeymoon period. Instead, talk to your doctor about what adjustments you might need to make to your insulin routine. Some scientists believe that continuing to take insulin during the honeymoon period could help keep the last of your insulin-producing cells alive longer.

During the honeymoon period, it’s important to find a balance in your insulin intake. Taking too much could cause hypoglycemia, and taking too little could raise your risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. Your doctor can help you find that initial balance and readjust your routine as your honeymoon period changes or comes to an end.

Can I extend the effects of the honeymoon phase?

Your blood sugar is often easier to control during the honeymoon period. Because of this, some people try to extend the honeymoon phase.

It’s possible a gluten-free diet could help extend the honeymoon phase. Researchers in Denmark conducted a case study of a child with type 1 diabetes who didn’t have celiac disease. After five weeks of taking insulin and eating an unrestricted diet, the child entered a honeymoon phase and no longer required insulin. Three weeks later, he switched to a gluten-free diet.

The study ended 20 months after the child was diagnosed. At this time, he was still eating a gluten-free diet and still didn’t need daily insulin. The researchers suggested that the gluten-free diet, which they called “safe and without side effects,” helped prolong the honeymoon period.

Additional research supports the use of a gluten-free diet for autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, so a long-term gluten-free diet may be beneficial even beyond the honeymoon period.

Other research suggests that taking vitamin D supplements could help the honeymoon period last longer. Brazilian researchers conducted an 18-month study of 38 people with type 1 diabetes. Half of the participants received a daily supplement of vitamin D-3, and the rest were given a placebo.

The researchers found that participants taking vitamin D-3 experienced a slower decline of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This may help extend the honeymoon period.

Continuing to take insulin throughout the honeymoon period may also help prolong it. If you’re interested in extending the phase, talk to your doctor about how you can try to achieve this.

What happens after the honeymoon phase?

The honeymoon period ends when your pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin to keep you in or near your target blood sugar range. You’ll have to start taking more insulin to get in the normal range.

Your doctor can help you adjust your insulin routine to meet your post-honeymoon needs. After a transition period, your blood sugar levels should stabilize somewhat. At this point, you’ll have fewer day-to-day changes to your insulin routine.

Now that you’ll be taking more insulin on a daily basis, it’s a good time to talk to your doctor about your injection options. A common way to take insulin is using a syringe. It’s the lowest-cost option, and most insurance companies cover syringes.

Another option is using an insulin pen. Some pens are prefilled with insulin. Others may require you to insert an insulin cartridge. To use one, you dial the correct dose on the pen and inject insulin through a needle, like with a syringe.

A third delivery option is an insulin pump, which is a small computerized device that looks like a beeper. A pump delivers a steady stream of insulin throughout the day, plus an extra surge at mealtimes. This can help you avoid sudden swings in your blood sugar levels.

An insulin pump is the most complicated method of insulin injection, but it can also help you have a more flexible lifestyle.

After the honeymoon period ends, you’ll need to take insulin every day of your life. It’s important to find a delivery method you feel comfortable with and that fits your needs and lifestyle. Your doctor can help you decide which option is best for you.

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