In my opinion, the most important things to know about Type 1 Diabetes are:
- the cause is unknown,
- it is unpreventable, and
- there is no cure (yet!).
Type 1 diabetes is classified as an autoimmune disease. Basically, your body’s immune system decides that the insulin producing cells (also known as islet beta cells) in your pancreas are the enemy and destroys them. Type 1 diabetics are insulin dependent, which is taken by injection (either by needle or via an insulin pump). Insulin is a hormone needed to allow your body to absorb and use glucose (sugars) for energy, and without it you cannot survive.
Type 1 diabetes has commonly been labeled as “juvenile diabetes” as it is commonly diagnosed in children. This label is misleading, as you can be diagnosed with type 1 at any age (I was diagnosed at 25!). Some of the symptoms include (as listed on the Mayo Clinic website):
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bedwetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed during the night
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Irritability and other mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- In females, a vaginal yeast infection
In my experience, the thirst was the tipping point for getting myself to a doctor. My mouth and throat were so dry that my tongue would get stuck to the roof of my mouth! I was drinking incredible amounts of water, but nothing would help. I thought I had caught the flu, but in hindsight I had been experiencing many of the other symptoms for weeks (maybe even months). Don’t ignore your body! Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
Type 1 diabetes is a life long disease, but medical advancements have made it possible for us to live long and full lives. Stay strong!