Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease in which there is too much glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. It occurs when the pancreas, a gland behind the stomach, does not produce enough insulin.
Insulin is the hormone necessary to carry sugar (produced from the foods you eat) from the bloodstream into the body’s cells, where it is used for energy. When there is not enough insulin, sugar builds up in the blood, putting people at risk for serious health problems including:
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Kidney problems
- Numbness in the feet and sores that don’t heal
- Vision problems
- Erectile dysfunction (in men)It is important to keep blood sugar lev- els as close to normal as possible to avoid the long-term complications of diabetes.
How does type 1 differ from type 2?
There are two types of diabetes—type 1 and type 2. Type 2 (also known as adult- onset diabetes) usually develops after age 40 but can sometimes appear in children, particularly if they are obese. With type 2, the pancreas produces insulin, but either there is not enough or the body can’t use it effectively. Insulin treatment isn’t always necessary, as it is with type 1.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin- dependent diabetes and juvenile diabetes, can occur at any age but most often happens in children and young adults.
It is also more severe than type 2.
The causes of type 1 are not fully known. In most cases, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the part of the pancreas that produces insulin. Family history plays a role, but only in about 10% to 15% of people with type 1 diabetes.
You are also at greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes if you have another autoimmune, hormone-related condition such as hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, or Addison’s disease.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can look like other conditions or medical problems. If you have these symptoms, it is important that you talk with your doctor.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
Feeling tired all the time
How is type 1 diabetes diagnosed & treated?
Your doctor will use simple blood tests to diagnose diabetes, and to determine which type of diabetes you have and how severe it is. If your blood sugar is above 125 mg/dL before breakfast or above
200 mg/dL after eating, that may indicate diabetes. Blood sugar above 300 mg/dL can be dangerous and may need immediate attention.
A urine test for ketones is also important if you are sick (even with a mild cold) or if your diabetes is out of control (blood sugar above 300 Mg/dL). Too many ketones, which are produced when your body burns fat for energy, can mean that there is not enough insulin to move sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. If not treated, this can lead to ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical attention.
People with type 1 diabetes must have daily injections of insulin to keep a normal level of sugar in the blood. Blood sugar is kept under the best control when three or more injections per day are given, or when insulin is delivered throughout the day with an insulin pump. A healthy diet, exercise, and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels are also important to manage diabetes.
How does a person with type 1 diabetes monitor blood sugar levels?
To monitor your blood sugar, you first stick your finger or forearm with a special lancet (a needle) to get a drop of blood, which is put on a chemically-treated paper strip. Then you use a small computerized machine to read the blood sugar from the strip. Your blood sugar level shows up as a number on a screen. These blood sugar readings are used to adjust the doses of insulin that you take every day.
Your doctor or diabetes educator will discuss the various types of strips and meters that are available and prescribe one for you. They will also instruct you on how often to do this test.
What should I do with this information?
If you have symptoms or a family history of diabetes, ask your doctor if you should be tested. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important that you manage your condition to avoid danger- ous long-term complications. Having diabetes requires that you take care of yourself every day. An endocrinologist, an expert in hormone-related conditions, can diagnose and treat your condition.
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