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Diabetes, Type 1:

You've probably heard of diabetes, but what is it?  Diabetes is best known by its nickname, "sugar"-it's a condition in which the body's immune system kills its cells in the pancreas that make insulin. In Type 1 or juvenile diabetes, this means the body no longer has enough insulin to convert sugar into energy.  To survive, people with type 1 diabetes must take multiple insulin injections daily and monitor their blood sugars closely, several times a day. It's a constant struggle to balance variations in insulin levels, food intake, exercise and stress.

There are 1 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death, killing nearly 190,000 Americans each year.  Diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and lower-leg amputations.

Why is diabetes so dangerous?  If the body has too much insulin, it can drive blood sugar levels too low, causing hypoglycemia-an immediate reaction that may include confusion, loss of consciousness, coma and even death. If the body does not have enough insulin to get blood sugar into the body's cells, hyperglycemia results-a build up of blood sugar that can cause harm to organs such as the eyes, heart, nerves, kidneys, brain and blood vessels.

Created: 3/16/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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