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Type 1 is one form of diabetes that was previously known as “juvenile diabetes” and “insulin-dependent diabetes”. When untreated, this condition is characterized by a very high blood sugar (glucose)– often about 20 at the time of diagnosis.
High blood sugar is caused by a severe deficiency of insulin. Insulin is required to control blood sugar– its causes sugar to be stored in all the cells of the body. Insulin is usually produced in special cells (beta cells) of our pancreas. Low insulin levels associated with Type 1 diabetes are caused by loss of beta cells, which are destroyed by the patient’s own immune system. This “autoimmunity” is of unknown cause.
Type 1 is mainly characterized by the following features:
If blood sugar runs high for many years, irreversible damages to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels may result. If blood sugar is kept close to normal throughout life, the chances of any damage are very limited. Dr. Elliott advises “the key to living well with Type 1 diabetes is to find the optimal balance between insulin doses, diet, exercise, and your everyday life by frequent measurement of blood sugar”.
Please see the handout section of this website for additional information on Type 1 diabetes.