Diabetes: Type 1

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Type 1 Diabetes


Of the adult diabetic population, approximately 5 to 10 percent have Type 1 diabetes whereas with the child diabetic population, approximately half have Type 1 diabetes.


With Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system essentially attacks its own pancreas. A process of inflammation is started in which the cells which produce insulin are destroyed. The immune system Type 1 diabetes affects about 5% to 10% of adults who are diagnosed, and it actually affects about half of the youth that are diagnosed. Because the immune system attacks the pancreas, Type 1 diabetes is considered an “autoimmune disease”. Other common autoimmune diseases include: lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Because the destruction of the cells that produce insulin is a progressive process, a person can go from making all the insulin she needs to making little or no insulin in a short period of time, maybe weeks to months. In some people, it might take up to a year to get to the point where they make no insulin at all. In these individuals, it is essential that insulin replacement therapy is taken. Insulin might be provided either, through an injection or through insulin pump therapy. People with Type 1 diabetes generally respond well to small amounts of insulin, but will need to take insulin for the remainder of their lives.


Type 1 diabetes has a genetic component, but it is possible for a person to be a carrier of the gene but not develop the condition. There is some research that suggests that environmental triggers may play a role in assisting with the manifestation of the condition in those who are carriers of the related genes. There is a test that can be run to see if someone has genes related to the development of Type 1 diabetes.