Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, is a type of autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, resulting in a complete deficiency of insulin. All people with type 1 diabetes must use insulin injections to control their blood glucose.
Type 1 diabetes is relatively uncommon, and affects only 5 percent of people with diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, but can occur at any age.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
Although doctors aren't sure exactly what leads to the development of type 1 diabetes, environmental factors may play a role. A toxin or virus may trigger the immune system to attack the pancreas. The tendency to develop the antibodies that attack the beta cells may also be inherited.
When the beta cells are destroyed by a different health issue – such as pancreatic surgery or cystic fibrosis – this results in a type of diabetes called secondary diabetes. Secondary diabetes is similar to type 1 diabetes but is not an autoimmune disease.
Managing type 1 diabetes
It is possible to live a long, healthy live with diabetes by managing blood sugar levels through meal planning, exercise, and insulin therapy. Diabetics must check blood sugar levels regularly and adjust their food, medication, and activities as needed to keep blood glucose levels within their target range.
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