Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes, since it usually occurs in people under the age of 30. Type 1 diabetes develops when the bodyís immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. As a result the body is unable to produce insulin and this leads to increased blood glucose levels.
Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Insulin is the key that unlocks the door to the bodyís cells. Once the door is unlocked glucose can enter the cells where it is used for energy. In Type 1 diabetes the body is unable to produce any insulin so there is no key to unlock the door and the glucose builds up in the blood.
Nobody knows for sure why the insulin-producing cells are destroyed in Type 1 Diabetes but the most likely cause is the body having an abnormal reaction to the cells. This may be triggered by a virus or other infection. There is a lot of research going on around the world to find the answer. We do know that type 1 diabetes is a very old disease and has been around for thousands of years. Until 1921, when insulin was discovered, people with type 1 diabetes died. Without insulin you can't use the food you eat so in fact starve to death. The scientists who discovered insulin won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood. Type 1 diabetes accounts for between 5 and 15 per cent of all people with diabetes and is treated with insulin, a healthy diet and regular physical activity. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives.
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Living with type 1 diabetes is tough but with proper care can be a footnote in your life's story. Balancing nutrition, exercise and proper blood glucose management techniques with the rest of your life's priorities mean anything is possible: