Type 1 Diabetes

Also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune form of the disease. It works by attacking insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, preventing insulin from being released into the body. As a result, the body cannot regulate blood sugar, leading to the classic symptoms of increased thirst and hunger, increased urination and weight loss.

Diabetes type 1 is normally seen in children and was known as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes for a long time before its current classification. People with type 1 typically are not overweight or unhealthy. The cause is mainly genetic, though it has been found that type 1 diabetes can also be caused by environmental factors.

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This form of diabetes must be controlled by insulin. Without it, the person will die. Therefore, insulin injections or pills are prescribed to the patient in order to treat the disease.

Symptoms and treatment of juvenile diabetes

Symptoms of type I diabetes include increased thirst and hunger, often to excess, weight loss and increased urination, especially during the night. Many parents have found that this last was actually the main symptom for their children—children who were dry at night suddenly became bedwetters due to the excessive urine output by the body. Thirst, especially for cold or ice water, is also a very common symptom in children. These symptoms may be accompanied by vomiting, nausea, fatigue and dizziness, though these are not classic signs of type 1 diabetes.

Treatment options include insulin injection or insulin pump, and occasionally, in very severe cases, pancreas transplant. Along with these options, strict attention to diet (carbohydrate tracking) and exercise are also part of the treatment plan.

Although there is no cure for juvenile diabetes, research has uncovered different treatment options, like islet cell transplantation, that can lessen the effects of the disease. Since untreated type 1 can lead to diabetic coma and then death, it is imperative that research continue to try to cure this very severe form of diabetes.