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, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.
Various factors may contribute to type 1 diabetes, including genetics and exposure to certain viruses. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it also can begin in adults.
Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments it can certainly be managed. With proper treatment, people with type 1 diabetes can expect to live long, healthy lives.
Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. In most people with type 1 diabetes, the body's own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Genetics may play a role in this process, and exposure to certain environmental factors may trigger the disease.
Warning signs and Symptoms:
Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can appear suddenly and unexpected, they typically include:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Sudden weight loss
- Abnormal tiredness
- Blurred vision
- “fruity” smelling breath
- Stomach pain
If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms please consult your doctor immediately.
Diagnosing diabetes can come about in a number of ways. A fasting blood glucose test measures your blood glucose level after 8 hours of fasting.
If your initial fasting blood glucose test results are normal, but you have some symptoms or risk factors for diabetes, your doctor may conduct an oral glucose tolerance test. For this test, you will drink a glucose solution, then take another blood glucose test after two hours have passed.
A high blood glucose level in either of these tests could indicate that you have the disease.
The glycated hemoglobin test, or A1C test, is a blood test that provides an average of your blood glucose levels for the past three months, rather than just a test of your current level.
Unaffected by recent meals, the A1C test measures the percentage of hemoglobin — an oxygen-transporting protein in red blood cells — to which glucose is bound. A high percentage (more than 6.5 percent) indicates diabetes.