Type 1 Diabetes Overview
Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.
Different factors, including genetics and some viruses, may contribute to type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults.
Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.
Causes of Type 1 Diabetes
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Usually, the body’s own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet, or islets of Langerhans) cells in the pancreas. Other possible causes include:
- Exposure to viruses and other environmental factors
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can appear relatively suddenly and may include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bed-wetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed during the night
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Irritability and other mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
The Role of Insulin
Once a significant number of islet cells are destroyed, you’ll produce little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that comes from a gland situated behind and below the stomach (pancreas).
- The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream.
- Insulin circulates, allowing sugar to enter your cells.
- Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.
- As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.
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