What is Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes?
by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation www.jdrf.org.au
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong autoimmune disease that destroys the ability to produce insulin, which is vital for life. It is generally diagnosed in childhood but can arise at any age and is not currently preventable. The causes of the disease are not fully understood, but scientists believe that a person’s genes play a role, as well as a variety of environmental factors. There’s no currently cure to this disease, which means that going on a diet or cutting down on sugar doesn’t stop or prevent type 1 diabetes. In fact, at this time, there is nothing that can be done to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes.
What are the initial symptoms and how is it diagnosed?
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that usually has an acute onset. If you or your child are experiencing the following symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible:
1. Excessive thirst or hunger
2. Frequent urination
3. Skin infections or blotches
4. Drowsiness or lethargy
5. Sudden weight loss
6. Sudden vision changes
7. Heavy or labored breathing
8. Stupor or unconsciousness
A disease indication can be derived from a simple blood glucose test however a more comprehensive blood test by a pathologist is usually required for a formal diagnosis. In people without serious symptoms it is possible to test the blood for the presence of antibodies, which is confirmation that this autoimmune disease will likely take hold in the future.
How do you treat type 1 diabetes?
People with type 1 diabetes face a rigorous daily regime of blood glucose management, which usually involves testing their blood every 3 hours or so. It is important to keep the blood glucose in the normal range as otherwise there can both short term and long term serious health complications. Blood glucose is influenced by food intake and daily activities as well as a variety of other factors. Depending on blood glucose levels, people with type 1 diabetes must take up to 6 insulin injections or receive a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump every single day, just to stay alive. However, insulin is not a cure.
Although many people with type 1 diabetes may look healthy, over time, without strict management, the disease can ravage most organs and body systems. Health complications of diabetes can be common and severe, and can include kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack, stroke and pregnancy complications.
JDRF is passionate about turning brilliant scientific ideas into tangible health improvements as quickly as possible. Globally, JDRF has funded the very best research into type 1 diabetes, giving kids and adults with type 1 diabetes a healthier life today and bringing us closer to a cure. Through local and international networks JDRF also steers the scientific agenda according to the needs of the type 1 community.