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What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Without insulin to manage the energy released from food, your blood glucose can rise to dangerous levels. Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 3 million Americans, or 5 percent of the overall diabetes population. Typically diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood, it is a chronic illness that can be managed for life with a healthy diet, exercise and insulin.

Risks for type 1 diabetes

Causes for developing type 1 diabetes are unknown. Genetics, family history, and environmental factors appear to play a role, but there is no known way to prevent it. For adults who have type 1 diabetes, the risk for passing it on to an unborn child depends on a few variables. If you are a man with type 1 diabetes, the odds of your child getting diabetes are 1 in 17. Your child's risk is doubled if you developed diabetes before age 11. If both you and your partner have type 1 diabetes, the risk is between 1 in 10 and 1 in 4. Researchers are discovering new ways to predict the odds of getting diabetes.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes

Any of following conditions may be symptoms of diabetes:

  1. Extreme, unquenchable, thirst
  2. Fatigue
  3. Weight loss
  4. Blurred vision
  5. Dizziness
  6. Irritability
  7. Frequent urination
  8. Hunger

Treatment and health management of type 1 diabetes

Diet, exercise, insulin and careful monitoring are the foundation of diabetes treatment and management. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to diabetes management. If you have diabetes, you can benefit from frequent blood glucose monitoring and living a life of moderation. Developments in the field of diabetes management are ongoing, and staying informed is important. Finding a good support system that includes an endocrinologist, certified diabetes educator, and a nutritionist is key to living well with diabetes. Support from friends, family and other people with diabetes can make a difference by empowering you or your loved one with diabetes on this lifelong journey.

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About Amy Stockwell Mercer

Amy Stockwell Mercer is the author of The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes, Authentic Advice on Everything from Eating to Dating and Motherhood. She has lived with type 1 diabetes for twenty-six years.

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