Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes an immune process destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone, usually leaving your body unable to produce insulin. Without insulin your body cannot use glucose (a form of sugar) found in food for energy, so your body cannot control sugar levels in the blood. Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections daily.
Although it can occur at any age, type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children or young adults. An estimated 5 to 10 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
Insulin cannot be taken in pill form. A pill would not have time to work before the juices in your stomach destroy the insulin. Insulin must be injected under the skin, in the fat, for it to work. Scientists are working on new ways to give insulin. But today, shots are the only reliable method.
Signs and Symptoms
Type 1 diabetes often appears suddenly. Here are some signs and symptoms to look for:
- Frequent urination (and/or bed-wetting in children)
- Extreme hunger
- Extreme thirst
- Unplanned weight loss
- Weakness and tiredness
- Feeling edgy and having mood changes
- Feeling sick to your stomach and vomiting
- High levels of sugar in the blood
- High levels of sugar in the urine
Living with Diabetes
The key to living a healthy life with diabetes is to follow your diabetes treatment plan. The goal of this plan is to have good blood-sugar control, keeping your blood-sugar level as close to normal as possible. Your treatment plan will probably include:
Insulin, to lower blood sugar. Your healthcare practitioner will prescribe how much and when to take which kinds of insulin.
A registered dietitian, to help you design a meal plan that includes the amount, type and timing of meals. Most people have three meals and at least two snacks every day. Your meal plan can include foods you enjoy.
Exercise, to lower blood sugar. Along with insulin, exercise helps your body use blood sugar. Your healthcare practitioner can help you fit exercise safely into your daily routine.
Blood testing. Testing your blood lets you know your blood-sugar level. The tests are simple. You prick your finger to get a drop of blood. A diabetes educator can teach you how to perform this test and use the test results.
You are at a greater risk for type 1 diabetes if your siblings or parents have type 1 diabetes. This is a very active area of research, with more information being discovered all the time.