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Type 1 Diabetes Resources
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, autoimmune condition that occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. This attack leaves the pancreas with little or no ability to produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Without insulin, sugar stays in the blood and can cause serious damage to organ systems, causing people to experience Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).
Learn about the warning signs of T1D.
When we eat, our bodies break down complex carbohydrates into glucose, the fuel we need. The pancreas releases insulin that acts as a kind of key to unlock the cells, allowing glucose to enter and be absorbed. Without fuel, cells in the body cannot survive. In addition, excess glucose can make the bloodstream too acidic, resulting in diabetic ketoacidosis DKA, which can be fatal if not treated. People with T1D must inject or pump insulin into their bodies every day to carefully regulate blood sugar.
Living with T1D is a full-time balancing act requiring constant attention to avoid acute, life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or the long-term damage done by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Blood sugar levels must be monitored either with finger pricks or a continuous glucose monitor. Insulin doses must then be carefully calculated based upon activity and stress levels, food intake, illness and additional factors. These calculations are rarely perfect, which can result in emotional and mental burden for both patient and caregivers.
How do you get Type 1 diabetes?
T1D is neither preventable nor curable and while its cause is unknown, studies prove that T1D results from a genetic predisposition together with an environmental trigger.
Learn more about Type 1 Diabetes
T1D Facts and Myths
Myth: T1D is caused by eating too much sugar or being obese.
Fact: Sugar intake and obesity have nothing to do with the onset of T1D. While we still do not know exactly what triggers the onset of T1D, scientists believe that both genetic and environmental factors are involved.
Myth: Only children are diagnosed with T1D.
Fact: While children are the age group most frequently associated with T1D, formerly called “juvenile diabetes,” it is regularly diagnosed in teens, young adults and adults. You can develop T1D at any age.
Myth: You can cure T1D by taking insulin.
Fact: Taking insulin keeps people with T1D alive, but it is not a cure.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t or shouldn’t eat sugar or sweets.
Fact: While limiting sugar intake can be a part of a healthy diet, people with T1D can work sugars and sweets into their diets just like a person without T1D. Sometimes sugar is necessary. If a person’s blood-sugar level drops too much, sugar, often in the form of juice or glucose tables, is required to raise it and correct hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Myth: Women with T1D shouldn’t get pregnant.
Fact: Women with T1D regularly have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies with planning and support.
Myth: T1D is contagious.
Fact: T1D is not contagious. T1D does not spread from person to person, but families with a history of autoimmune diseases may have more than one family member with T1D.
Myth: People with T1D will go blind.
Fact: While some people with T1D have complications, many live with T1D for decades without any complications. Every person is different and some are more genetically predisposed to complications, but optimal control of blood sugar is proven to significantly lower the risk of complications.
Myth: You can cure T1D with diet and exercise.
Fact: There is no cure for T1D. Healthy eating and exercise can help people with T1D maintain better blood-glucose control, but there is no cure.
Learn how to talk about type 1 to others.
JDRF offers a number of downloadable Type 1 Diabetes Toolkits that contains resources and information on topics such as starting school and navigating the teenage years.