Type 1 Diabetes

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
Type 1 diabetes (die-uh-BEE-tees) results when your body produces insufficient insulin, or no insulin at all. Without insulin, excess sugar collects in the blood, instead of being burned as fuel by your cells. Persons with this disorder must take daily injections of insulin throughout their life. Type 1 diabetes is much rarer than type 2, affecting only five to ten percent of all diabetics (die-uh-BET-icks). It usually begins during childhood, or in young adults, though it may develop later. Symptoms tend to come on suddenly, often after years of silent damage. Extreme thirst, frequent urination, ravenous appetite, weight loss, blurry vision, and severe fatigue are all possible signs of the disorder. Type 1 diabetes is classified as an autoimmune disease. This means the body's immune system mistakenly attacks a normal part of the body, in this case, the beta cells in the pancreas (PAN-cree-us), which manufacture insulin. Once the beta cells are damaged, your pancreas can no longer make insulin properly. Though it's not known precisely why the body strikes out against the beta cells, researchers suspect that viruses and genetic factors are to blame. If you think you or someone you know may have type 1 diabetes, it's wise to get a medical opinion. Without treatment, this illness can be fatal.

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