Type 1 Diabetes

What is type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is a disease that starts when the pancreas stops making insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar, also called glucose, enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, the cells can’t get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood.

Diabetes can cause sudden or long-term problems. If the body doesn’t have enough insulin and the blood sugar gets very high, a sudden and very serious problem called diabetic ketoacidosis can happen. This can be deadly. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. Type 1 Diabetes can occur at any age, but it usually starts in children or young adults. That’s why it used to be called juvenile diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is different from Type 2 Diabetes, which is the most common form of the illness. In type 1, the body stops making insulin. In type 2, the body does not make enough insulin, or the body can’t use insulin the right way. All people with type 1 Diabetes need to take insulin. Some people with type 2 Diabetes also need insulin, but most people can use diet, exercise, and medicine in pills to treat that illness.

There isn’t a cure for type 1 Diabetes. But with treatment, people can live long and healthy lives.

What causes type 1 Diabetes?

The body makes insulin in beta cells, which are in a part of the pancreas called the islet (say “EYE-let”) tissue. Type 1 diabetes starts because the body destroys the beta cells. Experts don’t know why this happens.

Some people have a greater chance of getting type 1 diabetes because they have a parent, brother, or sister who has it. But most people with the illness don’t have a family history.

Symptoms of Uncontrolled Type 1 Diabetes

  • Excessive Thirst
  • Excessive Urination
  • Weight Loss
  • Excessive Hunger
  • Fruity Odor to Breath, Heavy Breathing, Excessive Sleepiness (signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis)

Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes in Children

Treatment includes multiple daily injections of insulin to help mimic the actions of the pancreas and control blood sugars. This can also be done using an insulin pump. Children are to check blood sugars several times per day using a blood glucose meter and families and the healthcare team make changes regularly to keep blood sugars within target range. Keeping sugars in a good target range can help decrease any complications. If patients take their insulin properly and are relatively well controlled they should be able to lead long healthy lives.

*adapted from WebMD