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
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.