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Type 1 Diabetes

Also known as: Juvenile Diabetes, Insulin-Dependent Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
   

Type 1 DiabetesType 1 Diabetes
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Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease and a chronic medical condition, in which pancreas produces insufficient amount of insulin or does not produce insulin at all because the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys beta cells, which are responsible for making insulin in the pancreas.

Insulin is a hormone that is needed to help glucose get from your blood into your body’s cells to produce energy. Glucose is sugar that your body gets from the food you eat. Because in type 1 diabetes your body is incapable of processing glucose due to lack or absence of insulin, the glucose cannot pass into your body’s cells and gets accumulated in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), which can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal, health issues.

Type 1 diabetes was formerly called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes because it is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults and because people with type 1 diabetes must get insulin injections or use insulin pumps, which automatically deliver insulin, for the rest of their lives.

It can take from several months to several years to get a critical number of beta cells destroyed before type 1 diabetes symptoms become noticeable. Those symptoms may include excessive hunger, extreme thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision, dry mouth and skin, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, and unexplained weight loss.

Although, despite continuous research, the specific cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown, scientists believe that it can be caused by genes. Scientists discovered that type 1 diabetes can develop in people, who have a specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex – the complex of antigens that trigger an immune response in the body. Besides, type 1 diabetes is also believed to be triggered by viruses and other environmental factors.

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed by measuring blood sugar level, while also taking into consideration your age and symptoms. The blood tests include Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test that is taken in the morning after overnight fasting; Oral Glucose Tolerance test (OGTT), when blood sugar is measured two hours after you drink 75 grams of glucose; Random blood glucose test; and Hemoglobin A1C (glycohemoglobin) test that measures the average glucose level over the period of past 2-3 months. Besides, test can be done on your urine for glucose and for chemicals that your body produces when your insulin level is insufficient.

If you get diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it is crucial to take all necessary steps to properly manage it. That mostly involves controlling your blood sugar because high blood sugar can damage various parts of your body and cause disabling or even life-threatening complications, including increased risk of heart attack, blood vessel disease, pregnancy complications, neuropathy (nerve damage), nephropathy (kidney damage), eye damage (including blindness), and feet damage that can cause amputation.

Nevertheless, people with type 1 diabetes can leave a long, healthy life if they manage the disease right. You will have to regularly check your blood sugar, take insulin injections daily or wear an insulin pump, and also maintain healthy lifestyle, which means practicing healthy eating habits, having regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, managing stress, monitoring your eyes, skin, and feet, and controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure. You will also need to regularly meet with your healthcare providers to make sure that you are doing everything right and to get necessary guidance and support whenever needed.

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