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Type 1 diabetesSource: Medical text boks

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 that is needed in order the sugar enters into the cells for energy production.

Far more common is Type 2 diabetes which occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or does not produce enough insulin.

There are several factors that may contribute to type 1 diabetes, including genetic factors and exposure to certain viruses. Although type 1 diabetes typically appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults.

Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure, although it can be managed. With proper treatment, people with this type of diabetes can expect to live longer and healthier than in the past.

Type 1 diabetes symptoms

  • increased thirst and frequent urination
  • extreme hunger
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision

The causes of type 1 diabetes 

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known. For most people with this disease, the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin cells in the pancreas. In this process a major role may play genetics and exposure to different viruses.

The role of insulin

After the cells are destroyed, body will produce little or no insulin. It is a hormone that comes from the pancreas, the gland that is located behind and below the stomach.

  • The pancreas exudes insulin in the bloodstream.
  • Insulin circulates, allowing sugar to enter your cells.
  • Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
  • As your blood sugar level drops, also decreases the insulin secretion from the pancreas.

The role of glucose

Glucose is the main energy source for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues. Glucose comes from two major sources: food and liver. The sugar is absorbed into the blood stream where it enters the cells with the help of insulin. Your liver stores glucose as glycogen.

When insulin level is low, liver converts stored glycogen to glucose to maintain glucose levels within the normal range. In type 1 diabetes, there is no insulin releasing glucose into cells, so sugar accumulates in your bloodstream where it can cause a life-threatening complications.

The cause of type 1 diabetes is different from the causes of Type 2. In type 2, the cells are still functioning, but the body becomes resistant to insulin, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or both.

Treatment of type 1 diabetes 

Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes:

  • taking insulin
  • regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight
  • monitoring of blood sugar levels

The goal is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal (before meals between 80 and 120 mg / dL). Depending on the type of insulin therapy you choose, or need, (injections twice a day, several times a day or an insulin pump) you will need to monitor your blood sugar level at least four times a day, and possibly even more.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

This occurs when your blood sugar drops below your target level. Blood sugar level may drop out for various reasons such as skipping meals, excessive physical activity or taking too much insulin.

Early signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • sweating
  • shivering
  • hunger
  • weakness
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • irregular heartbeat
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • blurred vision
  • irritability

Later signs and symptoms of low blood sugar levels, which can sometimes be replaced by alcohol poisoning in teenagers and adults, include:

  • lethargy
  • confusion
  • behavior changes, often very dramatic
  • poor coordination
  • cramps

If you have developed hypoglycemia during the night, you will wake up very sweaty and with a headache. Thanks to the natural effect of your body hypoglycemia during the night causes very high blood pressure in the morning.

If you have low blood sugar level:

  • drink some fruit juice, soda,  eat candy, or some other source of sugar
  • check your blood sugar level after 15 minutes to make sure if it’s at a normal level
  • if not at a normal level, repeat the last procedure, eat candy, drink soda and fruit juice and check the level again after 15 minutes

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