Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body's immune system attacks the pancreas, according to Mayo Clinic. People with type 1 diabetes may have a genetic predisposition to it, or it may have developed because they were exposed to a virus or other pathogen.
Type 1 diabetes is rare, according to Mayo Clinic. Because it often affected children in the past, it was previously known juvenile diabetes. The symptoms with type 1 diabetes can be mild, but more severe symptoms include constant hunger and thirst, a dry mouth, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, claims WebMD. The person also urinates frequently, loses weight for no reason and suffers fatigue. She may have blurred vision, a type of fast, heavy breathing called Kussmaul respiration, and recurring infections of the urogenital tract or the skin.
Signs of a medical emergency in a type 1 diabetic include a fruity odor on the breath, shaking, abdominal pain and mental confusion, according to WebMD. Rarely, the patient loses consciousness.
Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin dependent diabetes because the patient must inject herself with insulin to control her blood glucose levels, says WebMD. The patient must also regularly check her glucose levels and keep them within the range specified by her physician.