Type 1 Diabetes explained

Diabetes occurs when the body stops producing insulin altogether, because the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed or don’t work. This usually happens when the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections, or use an insulin pump to survive. Type 1 diabetes is usually first diagnosed in children and young adults, although it may be diagnosed into adulthood. Currently it accounts for 10 - 15 percent of diabetes cases in Australia1.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes may vary widely. They can include increased thirst and frequent urination, weight loss, extreme hunger, vomiting, abdominal pain and fatigue. Women with Type 1 diabetes may also stop menstruating. Learn more from Diabetes Australia.

Causes

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, the hormone that helps cells use blood sugar (glucose) for energy. This is the result of an autoimmune process. There is currently no known way to prevent or predict Type 1. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, there is no known relationship between Type 1 diabetes and body weight, cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

Risk Factors

A family history of Type 1 diabetes may increase the risk. Certain viral infections may also increase the risk.

 

Diagnosis

Many people are first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after being hospitalised for symptoms caused by extreme high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) or extreme low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). Doctors will then use a series of tests to check for ketoacidosis, a condition that can lead to coma and death. Blood tests will help them determine your blood sugar (glucose) and gain an indication of how much insulin is being produced. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of diabetes, it is important to visit your doctor.

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