November is Diabetes Awareness Month. This seems like a good time to clear up some misunderstandings about type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is sometimes confused with type 2 diabetes. But these are actually very different conditions.
Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes. It was called juvenile diabetes because it usually emerges in childhood or during the teen years. According to Kidshealth.org, 13,000 children in the United States are found to have type 1 diabetes every year.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease surrounded with many unanswered questions. We don't know what causes it, though there is speculation that it may be an autoimmune condition, and it seems to have a tendency to run in families which suggests a genetic factor. There is no known cure.
For whatever the reason, the body of a diabetic targets insulin-manufacturing cells in the pancreas. When these cells have been attacked, their ability to produce insulin is destroyed.
Since insulin is essential to lower blood sugar, people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin regularly, usually via injection, requiring anywhere from one to four injections per day. Sometimes an insulin pump is used rather than injections.
Diabetes adversely affects the body's ability to metabolize the glucose in our food. When blood glucose levels rise after you eat, your pancreas is supposed to make insulin, and send it off into your bloodstream.
But in type 1 diabetes, insulin either isn't being manufactured, or the body doesn't react to its presence in a healthy way, and blood sugar levels remain too high.
The person with type 1 diabetes may need to urinate more often than usual. This is because the kidneys are trying to excrete extra glucose from the bloodstream through the urine. Consequently, the person with type 1 diabetes gets thirsty more often than the average person.
Since glucose is not available from the bloodstream for nourishing the body, the person with type 1 diabetes may eat plenty of food with a good appetite, but may have trouble keeping on weight. The body is busy consuming its own muscle and fat.