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What is type 1 diabetes, anyway?


Diabetes is classified as elevated blood glucose levels stemming from the body’s resistance to insulin action, insufficient insulin secretion, or both. The most common classifications of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. First, let's review type 1.


Type 1 diabetes is described as the complete absence of insulin secretion. But, what does that mean?


Type 1 diabetes can be idiopathic (unknown cause), however usually it is autoimmune. This is due to the immune destruction of beta cells (the pancreatic cells that make insulin). Many times, this autoimmunity is triggered by an illness (bacteria, virus, etc.). Put very simply, although the body is intending to attack a virus, it attacks the pancreas' beta cells resulting in their destruction and type 1 diabetes. Although this form of diabetes usually occurs in children and adolescents it can occur at any age.


In many cases, kids will present with ketoacidosis (abdominal pain, rapid heart rate, vomiting, tiredness, drowsiness). Adults, however are often able to secrete enough insulin to avoid ketoacidosis for many years. They often present with frequent thirst, urination, and huger. This more latent form of type 1 diabetes is called LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults).


Treatment for type 1 diabetes with insulin is essential and here is why…The body breaks down simple sugars and carbohydrates into glucose and this is used for energy. Insulin is the key that opens the door to allow glucose to go from the bloodstream into the cells. Without insulin, the cells starve. Insulin can be given through multiple daily injections or through insulin pump therapy.


Effective management also involves frequent blood glucose monitoring through finger sticks or continuous glucose monitoring devices.


Uncontrolled blood glucose levels can lead to some scary complications; however, the good news is that with all the treatments and technology currently available there is no reason that someone with diabetes shouldn’t live a long, healthy, and happy life free of complications.


Pictured below are some of the tools that I use to help manage my diabetes. Sometimes I feel like the bionic woman! Stay tuned for a more detailed post regarding the AMAZING treatment options that are available!


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