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Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes and insulin-dependent diabetes, typically strikes people under the age of 20. Although it is most often seen in children, adolescents and young adults, it can occur at any age. Once an individual is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes it is a life-long condition.
The hormone insulin is produced in the pancreas by beta cells. Insulin is then used to move glucose, or blood sugar, into the cells of the body where it can be utilized for energy. But in type 1 diabetics, the beta cells either produce very little insulin or none at all. Without a sufficient level of insulin to transport the glucose, it is allowed to build up in the bloodstream instead of making its way to cells.
What prohibits insulin production? Experts believe that it is due to the presence of an autoimmune disorder. This disorder erroneously gives the body the perception that the beta cells producing the insulin are a foreign body. In response, this autoimmune disorder seeks to destroy the beta cells, inhibiting production.
The body continues to destroy these cells as it tries to rid the body of something that does not belong. Within the span of 5 to 10 years, the last of the beta cells have been eradicated and the body will never again be able to produce insulin.
Although experts are not exactly sure what initially causes the autoimmune disorder, they believe that it is primarily hereditary as it seems to be capable of being passed from generation to generation. Some feel that it could possibly originate from a virus or environmental factors.
Symptoms similar to those of type 1 diabetes are common with type 2 diabetes: excessive thirst and urination, fatigue, blurred vision, etc. But type 1 diabetes is different in that it can also bring on unexplained weight loss and unexplained hunger, even after a large meal.
Type 1 diabetes also differs in that some individuals will go about their daily routine without experiencing any symptoms whatsoever. The first time that they become aware of their condition is when they receive their diagnosis. Diagnosis is typically verified through different types of blood work and/or through the use of an oral glucose tolerance test.
Treatment for this condition is also similar to that of type 2: healthy eating, exercise and maintaining balanced glucose levels. All type 1 diabetics require daily insulin injections to help balance their glucose.
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