- Glucose is a type of sugar that comes from the food we eat, and which circulates
in the blood. A hormone called insulin helps glucose get into the body's
cells, where the glucose is used for fuel.
- People with type 1 diabetes, however, slowly stop producing insulin. As
this occurs, glucose is no longer pushed from the blood into the cells. The
body can't get the fuel it needs. And the level of glucose in the blood becomes
- Type 1 diabetes generally develops unnoticed for years, then symptoms appear
abruptly. It most often strikes young people between the ages of 5 and 7.
Symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, hunger, and weight
loss. The symptoms are usually so dramatic that once they appear, the diabetes
is usually diagnosed within a few weeks.
- Anyone with these symptoms should have a blood glucose test as well as
a urine test. If left undiagnosed and untreated, type 1 diabetes would lead
to labored breathing, coma, and even death. However, diabetes can be successfully
treated and with proper management people with diabetes can live full, healthy
- To manage diabetes, insulin must be used daily (usually injected).
- Other essential components of diabetes management include careful meal
planning, blood glucose monitoring, and exercise.
- Medical emergencies can occur when blood glucose gets too high. This can
lead to the buildup of a poisonous acid called ketones (ketoacidosis). Another
emergency is when blood glucose gets too low (severe hypoglycemia). People
with diabetes should wear or carry alert information. They, and their friends
and family, should know the symptoms of these emergencies and what to do
if they occur.
- People with diabetes are at greater risk of long-term complications. These
include heart disease, stroke, foot problems, eye problems, and kidney disease.
People with diabetes should keep their blood glucose under control. They
also need to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
- People with diabetes should get regular checkups. They should get their
hemoglobin A1c tested every 6 months and keep it below 7%.
Review Date: 5/10/2007
Reviewed By: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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