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What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Aug 7, 2008
Type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile onset or insulin dependent diabetes) develops when the pancreas becomes damaged meaning that your body can no longer produce insulin (the hormone which helps your body convert blood sugar/glucose into energy). It represents approximately 5% to 10% of all diabetes cases and can be fatal if left untreated.

The damage to the pancreas is usually the result of an auto-immune attack, when (for some unknown reason) the body's immune system starts to attack the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas. The result is that the pancreas can no longer supply the body with adequate levels of insulin, blood sugar levels become elevated and type 1 diabetes develops.

Since type 1 diabetes is the result of a rapid attack the symptoms also develop relatively quickly, usually in a matter of days or weeks. Things to look out for include:

- Clouded vision.
- Greater hunger and thirst levels.
- Increased fatigue levels.
- Weight loss.

If you do notice any of the above symptoms then go see your doctor immediately. They will probably recommend you take a Fast Plasma Glucose Test (FPG). For this test you will need to eat nothing in the eight hours before the test. Your doctor will then take a blood sample and if your blood sugar levels are above 126 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) you may have diabetes. To confirm whether you do actually have diabetes the test will be performed a second time. If your second reading is above 126 mg/dL then your doctor will diagnose you with diabetes.

If further investigation reveals that you have type 1 diabetes then your doctor will be on hand to help you manage the condition. If you have type 1 diabetes you will require insulin injections since your body can no longer produce the substance itself. You will also need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly to determine when you require these injections. Your doctor will be able to talk you through the different types of insulin available and the types that are most suitable for you.

Apart from using insulin to treat type 1 diabetes, your doctor is also likely to advise you to make some lifestyle improvements. These will include improvements to your diet (eating a balanced diet, consuming more fruit and vegetables etc) and participating in regular exercise (which can include walking, cycling, participating in team sports etc). Making these changes will further help keep your blood sugar within normal levels.

Having type 1 diabetes means that you are at risk for a number of complications. One such complication is hypoglycaemia (extremely low blood sugar levels). Hypoglycaemia in diabetics usually occurs as a result of; excessive alcohol consumption (alcoholic beverages can inhibit glucose production), injecting too much insulin (insulin is used to lower your blood sugar levels to acceptable levels but too much can induce hypoglycaemia) and eating too little (your body gets glucose from the food you eat so eating too little can cause hypoglycaemia). Symptoms of hypoglycaemia can range from mild (paleness, shaking and sweating) to severe (temporary loss of consciousness and coma). Mild hypoglycaemia can often be treated alone by consuming some fast acting carbohydrates (such as candy, chocolate or glucose tablets). However, for severe hypoglycaemia you will are likely to require medical assistance.

Type 1 diabetes is a life changing condition. However, knowing that you have the condition means that you are in a much better position to manage it. By following the advice of your doctor and the tips listed in this article you can keep the negative symptoms of type 1 diabetes at bay and carry on living your life.

Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative it is intended for general information only. Diabetes is a medical condition and this article is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner. If you have any concerns regarding type 1 or any other form of diabetes you should seek the advice of your doctor immediately.
About the Author
Tom Parker owns and operates a number of useful fitness resources and websites. The Free Fitness Tips blog provides you with fantastic, free advice on all aspects of fitness. For more detailed information on type 1 diabetes please visit the Free Fitness Tips blog
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