What You Need To Know About Type 1 Diabetes
It used to be called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, but now it’s more commonly known as type 1 diabetes. This form of diabetes is more often diagnosed in kids and young adults, but it can affect anyone at any age. Thankfully, type 1 diabetes is much less common than type 2, being only five percent of all diabetes cases. Unfortunately, once you have type 1 diabetes, you have it the rest of your life. With the right care and treatments, however, even children can manage their illness to live a long and healthy life.
What is type 1 diabetes and how is it different than type 2? What are the symptoms and how is it treated? Learn the answers to these questions and more by reading on.
The hormone that is used by your cells to produce energy from sugar in the food you eat is called insulin. Made by the pancreas, insulin is essential for the functioning of your body. When a person has type 1 diabetes, his or her pancreas makes little or no insulin so sugar builds up in the blood as a result. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to dangerous health conditions.
Type 2 differs from type 1 in that the pancreas either doesn’t make enough insulin and/or the body is resistant to the effects of insulin. High blood sugar levels remain a big concern.
Why some people develop type 1 diabetes is still somewhat of a mystery. The disease does have a genetic component, but it can also be the result of exposure to a virus that affects your immune system’s treatment of pancreatic cells.
What Happens Now
When your body lacks insulin, glucose isn’t able to give cells energy so they slowly begin to starve. Glucose builds up in your blood, causing a wide range of symptoms.
Children with the beginning stages of type 1 diabetes may experience the following symptions:
- feeling thirsty all the time
- frequent urination
- feeling hungry, fatigued, or nauseated;
- weight loss
- mood swings
- itchy skin
- numbness or tingling in their hands or feet
- frequent infections
- blurry eyesight
A child or adult with any of these unexplained symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor. Tests of the individual’s blood and/or urine will diagnose diabetes.
What Can Be Done
Though type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented or cured, there are ways to manage symptoms. Children with type 1 diabetes must be vigilant about keeping their blood sugar levels in a safe zone. To do this, they must periodically check their blood sugar levels and adjust their insulin, food, and activities to ensure it isn’t too high or too low.
When blood sugar levels are low, insulin must be injected through a shot or via an attached pump into the diabetic’s blood stream. Some types of insulin act immediately and remain effective for a couple hours, while others take a while to have an effect but help all day. The number of injections and the type of insulin needed are based on the doctor’s recommendations for your stage of diabetes.
In addition to insulin, you may require other medications. Exercise is essential (but is complicated by fluctuating blood sugar levels), as is careful selection of foods, counting carbs, and regular medical examinations.
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