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Diabetes Health Center

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Type 1 Diabetes - Topic Overview

This topic covers type 1 diabetes, including information about symptoms, tests, and home treatment. For specific information about children who have type 1 diabetes, see the topic Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease.

Type 1 diabetes happens when your pancreas camera.gif stops making insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body's cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra energy in muscle, fat, and liver cells. Without insulin, this sugar can't get into your cells to do its work. It stays in your blood instead. And then your blood sugar level gets too high.

High blood sugar can harm many parts of the body camera.gif, such as the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. It can also increase your risk for other health problems (complications).

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it usually starts in children or young adults. That's why it used to be called juvenile diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is different from type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin. In type 2, the body doesn't make enough insulin, or the body can't use insulin the right way.

There isn't a cure for type 1 diabetes. But with treatment, people can live long and healthy lives.

The body makes insulin in beta cells, which are in a part of the pancreas called the islet (say "EYE-let") tissue. Type 1 diabetes starts because the body destroys those beta cells. Experts don't know why this happens.

Some people have a greater chance of getting type 1 diabetes because they have a parent, brother, or sister who has it. But most people with the illness don't have a family history.

Other things that increase the risk of getting type 1 diabetes are being white and having islet cell antibodies in the blood.

Symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Being very thirsty.
  • Urinating a lot.
  • Losing weight without trying.
  • Being hungrier than usual (sometimes).
  • Blurry eyesight.
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