Understanding Type 1 Diabetes

There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes, and the exact causes of the disease are not known. Also known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes affects children and adults, and it can be diagnosed at any age. There is no cure for the disease, but long-term management helps people with type 1 diabetes live full, active lives.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, doesn't result from diet or lifestyle. The disease affects children and adults, and it can be diagnosed at any age. Click To Tweet

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. The body’s immune system identifies pancreatic beta cells as a threat and destroys these insulin-producing cells.

Insulin is responsible for getting the sugar in the bloodstream (glucose) to the cells in the body. Without insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream. This can cause life-threatening complications.

Diabetes increases your risk for cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. The disease can narrow arteries and weaken blood vessels throughout the body.

  • It can damage the blood vessels that nourish nerves in the body, which may result in loss of feeling, numbness, and tingling in the limbs.
  • Diabetes can damage blood vessels in the eyes leading to problems with vision and blindness.
  • It can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney failure.

In some cases, the complications of diabetes can be fatal. Managing blood sugar levels helps reduce the risk of these complications.

Identifying diabetes in children

The causes of type 1 diabetes are unknown. It can develop suddenly, and it doesn’t result from your lifestyle choices. However, a family history of the disease does increase a person’s risk for type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes typically appears during childhood, but it can also develop in adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, type 1 diabetes tends to appear in two noticeable age ranges: between 4 and 7 years of age and between 10 and 14 years of age.

Learning to identify signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children:

  • Constantly feeling tired or fatigued
  • Changes in vision
  • Breath smells sweet or fruity
  • Constant hunger
  • Always thirsty
  • Unexplained weight loss, especially if your child is losing weight while eating more
  • Unusual restlessness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Frequent urination

Talk to your doctor

Proper management is essential to living a full, active life with type 1 diabetes. People with diabetes must work closely with a medical professional to ensure that everything is being done to manage the disease.

Because there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, managing the disease and its symptoms is critical. Type 1 diabetes management includes:

  • Insulin therapy — either injecting insulin or use of an insulin pump.
  • Routine measuring of blood-sugar levels either through finger pricks or a continuous glucose monitor.
  • Structured diet and exercise.
  • Managing stress and mental health.