Type 1 diabetes used to be referred to as ‘juvenile diabetes’. While this chronic condition is more likely to appear during childhood or adolescence, it can also develop in adults. Consider these 5 facts you should know about type 1 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. It is considered insulin-dependent diabetes as patients must take insulin to make up for this imbalance. Insulin is the hormone needed to let sugar enter the cells to produce energy from food. In type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks and destroys beta cells- the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There is no present cure for type 1 diabetes but it can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes so people can live long and healthier lives. Research is constantly finding answers to help patients with type 1 diabetes.
- This autoimmune disease is not the same as the more common type 2 diabetes which happens when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not make enough insulin. Developing type 1 diabetes does not have anything to do with lifestyle or diet. There is nothing people can do to prevent type 1 diabetes. The causes of this disease are not yet completely understood despite ongoing research. Genetic triggers, certain viruses, and environmental triggers are believed to be involved. Only about 5 percent of the diabetes population has type 1 diabetes.
- People with type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin injections or insulin supplied through a pump for the rest of their lives. It is crucial to balance insulin doses daily with regular activities such as eating and exercise. It is essential to always have diabetes supplies on hand. Blood glucose meters are used to measure blood glucose levels throughout the day. Even with careful attention and treatment people with type 1 diabetes may have low or high blood sugar levels which can become life threatening. Taking insulin helps people with type 1 diabetes avoid these fluctuations but it is not a cure. Complications of type 1 diabetes may include heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage or blindness. With proper care and controlled blood sugars these complications can be avoided. Most people with type 1 diabetes visit a health care team including endocrinologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, podiatrists, and dentists.
- The warning signs of type 1 diabetes may appear suddenly. These warning signs may include increased appetite, extreme thirst, fatigue or drowsiness, weight loss, frequent urination, sugar in the urine, vision changes, labored breathing, fruity-smelling breath, and unconsciousness. If you have any of these symptoms visit a doctor immediately for an examination and testing.
- People with type 1 diabetes face the disease’s challenges each day. Many do not let it stand in the way of achieving their ambitions. Actress Mary Tyler Moore, the International Chairperson of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), stated, “Both children and adults like me who live with type 1 diabetes need to be mathematicians, physicians, personal trainers, and dietitians all rolled into one.” Patients must continually check blood sugars, make adjustments, and accurately administer insulin each day to stay active and alive. While it can be challenging, people with type 1 diabetes work in all types of jobs and lead completely normal and satisfying lives.
Type 1 diabetes it can be a challenge but there are ways to stay healthy and active. Maintain regular appointments with your diabetes health care team, follow your diabetes self-management plan, and report complications immediately. With ongoing treatment and attention, you can help ward off the complications of type 1 diabetes.