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This topic covers type 1 diabetes, including information about symptoms, tests, and home treatment. For specific information about children who have type 1 diabetes, see the topic Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes happens when your pancreas stops making
Insulin is a hormone that helps the body's cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra energy in muscle, fat, and liver cells. Without insulin, this sugar can't get into your cells to do its work. It stays in your blood instead. And then your blood sugar level gets too high.
High blood sugar can harm many parts of the body , such as the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. It can also increase your risk for other health problems (complications).
Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it usually
starts in children or young adults. That's why it used to be called juvenile
Type 1 diabetes is different from type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body stops making
insulin. In type 2, the body doesn't make enough insulin, or the body can't
use insulin the right way.
There isn't a cure for type 1 diabetes. But with treatment, people can
live long and healthy lives.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
The body makes
insulin in beta cells, which are in a part of the pancreas called the islet
(say "EYE-let") tissue. Type 1 diabetes starts because the body destroys those
beta cells. Experts don't know why this happens.
Some people have
a greater chance of getting type 1 diabetes because they have a parent,
brother, or sister who has it. But most people with the illness don't have a
Other things that increase the risk of
getting type 1 diabetes are being white and having
islet cell antibodies in the blood.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of diabetes are:
- Being very thirsty.
- Urinating a
- Losing weight without trying.
- Being hungrier than
- Blurry eyesight.
These symptoms usually appear over a few days to weeks.
Sometimes people notice symptoms after an illness, like the flu. They may
think that the diabetes symptoms are because of the flu, so they don't seek
medical care soon enough.
If you wait too long to get
medical care, you may get diabetic ketoacidosis, which is very dangerous. Symptoms of
this problem include:
- Flushed, hot, dry skin.
- Belly pain.
strong, fruity breath odor.
- Fast and shallow
- Restlessness, drowsiness, or trouble waking
How is type 1 diabetes diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose diabetes with a physical exam, your medical history, and blood tests.
Some people are diagnosed with type
1 diabetes because they have symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.
How is it treated?
Treatment for type 1 diabetes
focuses on keeping blood sugar levels within a target range and doing things to reduce complications.
To control your blood sugar, you:
- Take insulin through daily shots or an
- Eat a healthy diet that spreads
carbohydrate throughout the day.
blood sugar levels several times a day.
- Get regular
What are the complications from diabetes?
High blood sugar can lead to problems such as:
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This can cause heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
- Diabetic retinopathy. This is a type of eye disease
that can lead to vision loss.
- Diabetic nephropathy. This kidney disease has no early
symptoms, but it can lead to
- Diabetic neuropathy. This is a nerve disease that can
affect your internal organs as well as your ability to sense touch and pain,
especially in your feet. It can also cause sexual problems.
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