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About Type 1 Diabetes

A chronic, lifelong condition

According to the CDC, 25.8 million people have diabetes; 18.8 million have been formally diagnosed. 5-10% of these have type 1 diabetes.

The cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet fully understood. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, known as beta cells. Genetic, viral, and environmental factors may also be involved. As a result, the pancreas produces little to no insulin, which the body needs to convert sugars and starches into energy. Glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing symptoms with the potential to build to lifethreatening levels without intervention. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, but is also on occasion found later in adulthood.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include excessive thirst, constant urinating, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, and nausea or stomachache.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be controlled indefinitely through diet and exercise alone. Managing type 1 diabetes requires routine monitoring of blood sugar levels, done by pricking the finger with a lancet to check blood sugars with a glucose meter several times a day. Type 1 diabetics must inject themselves with insulin pens or syringes of insulin several times a day, or infuse insulin into their bodies with an insulin pump.

Regular exercise can help stabalize blood glucose levels, as can a carefully planned diet incorporating the "carb counting" technique. The goal is to keep glucose levels as close to normal as possible.

Type 1 diabetes is not caused by diet or lifestyle. Currently there is no way to prevent or cure type 1 diabetes, but there are many efforts toward one day finding a cure.

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