What is type 1 diabetes? When you learn of a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, you are likely to have many pressing questions about the disease. This article shares the basic facts you need to know to answer the question, what is type 1 diabetes?
"This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, although disease onset can occur at any age. In adults, type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes" (1). Because type 1 diabetes can strike at a young age the disease has been referred to as juvenile-onset diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes develops due to a problem with the beta cells of the pancreas. These cells stop working properly causing an inability to produce insulin. Insulin is needed by your body to control blood sugar levels so a person with type 1 diabetes requires insulin to manage their blood sugar.
This dependence on insulin is why type 1 diabetes was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes.
There is still more to be learned about what causes this disease but risk factors have been identified. These risk factors include autoimmune disease, genetic or environmental factors. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms may develop quickly, over a few weeks or months and can include:
You should consult your doctor immediately if any of the above symptoms are noticed.
If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you will be dependent on insulin for the rest of your live. Insulin is administered through daily injections that you learn to deliver yourself or through the use of an insulin pump, which can be worn throughout the day.
Though insulin is required, there are self-management recommendations that will help a patient with type 1 diabetes lead a healthier life. These recommendations include, following diabetic diet guidelines, being more physically active, controlling weight, and closely monitoring blood sugar levels.
(1) National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (2007). National diabetes statistics, 2007. Retrieved from http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/