Type 1 Diabetes Questions and Answers

Whether you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or you’re a seasoned veteran of managing the condition, you’re likely to have questions about the best approach to management. Get top type 1 diabetes questions and answers here.

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What is type 1 diabetes and how do you get it?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. When this happens, the pancreas can no longer make insulin, a hormone that helps move glucose, or sugar, from the blood into cells to be used for energy. As a result, glucose levels in the blood rise above normal. High blood glucose levels can cause damage to the body, both in the short term and the long term, and left untreated, can lead to coma and even death. People who have type 1 diabetes must take insulin in order to survive.

Researchers don’t know the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, but they believe that genes play a role (in other words, type 1 diabetes can run in the family). Also, environmental factors, such as viruses, may trigger the onset of type 1; in particular, the B4 strain of the coxsackie B virus, German measles, mumps and rotavirus are more likely than other viruses to lead to type 1 diabetes.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic conditions in which the body can’t properly store and use glucose for energy. Glucose levels can build up in the blood — rather than entering cells to be used for fuel — and can lead to serious complications. But this is where type 1 and type 2 diabetes part ways. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the beta cells (the cells that produce insulin) in the pancreas. This means that a person with type 1 must take insulin in order to survive. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin but the body has a hard time using it properly. This is called insulin resistance. Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, a healthy eating plan, and regular physical activity can help manage type 2 diabetes, although most people with this condition also need medication, including insulin, to help keep blood glucose levels within a safe range.

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