What Is Type 1 Diabetes?


Quick Answer

Formerly known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness in which the body’s immune system attacks cells in the pancreas, explains WebMD. This renders glucose unable to move into the body’s cells, so it builds up in the blood and causes high blood sugar. Approximately 5 percent of diabetes patients have Type 1.

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Damage to the pancreas from this type of diabetes causes it to produce little to no insulin hormone, notes WebMD. This hormone is needed to transform glucose into energy for the body’s cells, so its absence causes symptoms ranging from dehydration to weight loss. The body may also break down fat cells when it can’t find sufficient glucose, and damage to the kidney and heart can result from long-term high glucose levels.

Family plays a crucial role in the development of Type 1 diabetes, according to Mayo Clinic. People with a parent or sibling with the disease are at higher risk of getting it, as are people with certain genetic markers. Geography can also predispose people to Type 1 diabetes, with incidences of the disease increasing the farther one is from the equator. Children are at higher risk for getting Type 1, although the disease can manifest at any age.

Type 1 diabetes makes the patient dependent on insulin for life, states Mayo Clinic. Patients must closely monitor glucose levels to treat themselves properly using insulin injections, insulin pumps, medication, healthy diet plans or other treatment plans. Consultation with a diabetes specialist helps patients find the right treatment and avoid serious consequences, such as nerve damage, eye damage and heart disease.

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