|Type 1 diabetes > More about Type 1 diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, accounts for approximately 5-10% of diabetes in America. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the beta-cells within the pancreas are gradually destroyed and eventually fail to produce insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that helps the body’s cells use glucose for energy. If glucose can’t be absorbed by the cells, it builds up in the bloodstream instead, and high blood sugar is the result. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems with virtually every system in your body.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes may include one or more of the following:
- Excessive thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- Extreme hunger.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Fatigue, or a feeling of being “run down” and tired.
- Rapid breathing.
- Blurred vision.
- Dry, itchy skin.
- Tingling or burning pain in the feet, legs, hands, or other parts of the body.
- High blood pressure.
- Mood swings.
- Irritability, depression.
- Frequent or recurring infections, such as urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and skin infections.
- Slow healing of cuts and bruises.
The causes of type 1 diabetes are complex and still not completely understood. People with type 1 diabetes are thought to have an inherited, or genetic, predisposition to the disease. It is theorized that this genetic predisposition may remain dormant until it is activated by an environmental trigger such as a virus or a chemical. This starts an attack on the immune system that results in the eventual destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes is frequently diagnosed in childhood, and is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes for that reason. Early diagnosis is important to prevent some of the more serious complications of diabetes, which include heart disease, blindness, high blood pressure, nerve damage, and kidney failure. In addition to following an exercise and healthy eating plan, individuals with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections.