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Type 1 Diabetes

Occurs when the body's immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects many different parts of the body. Depending on the type of diabetes, the body either cannot produce insulin itself (Type 1) or is unable to use the insulin it produces properly (Type 2).

Insulin is a hormone, a chemical messenger that is transported in the blood and regulates important body functions. Without insulin your body cannot get the energy it needs from the food you have eaten.

This vital hormone is usually produced in the pancreas and released into the bloodstream. Here it enables the sugar (glucose) in our food and drink to be transported into our cells and converted into energy for our bodies.

Without insulin our bodies cannot use the sugar in our blood, so the sugar builds up there. Very high blood sugar concentrations cause a number of symptoms.

In people who have type 1 diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce any insulin, or only produces very little insulin. This means they have to inject insulin every day to get the insulin they are lacking. Insulin therapy prevents dangerous fluctuations in blood sugar levels and protects people with diabetes from the effects of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. And good treatment can help to prevent the development of complications that can arise if your blood sugar levels are too high... Read more about Type 1 Diabetes

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Autoantibody testing in children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes mellitus

The aim of this review was to determine the role of autoantibody tests for autoimmune diseases in children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes Education for Children With Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and Their Families

To determine the effectiveness of diabetes education on metabolic control, diabetes-related hospitalizations, complications, and knowledge, quality of life and other psychosocial outcomes for children with type 1 diabetes and their families.

Hormone replacement therapy for women with type 1 diabetes mellitus

There are increasing numbers of people living with type 1 diabetes mellitus. The main aim of treatment for diabetes is to maintain good quality of life and to minimise, or prevent, the development of diabetic complications by controlling blood glucose levels. Women with type 1 diabetes frequently express difficulties in controlling their blood glucose levels during the menopausal phase of their lives. However, the cause of this has not been explored.

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Summaries for consumers

Hormone replacement therapy for women with type 1 diabetes mellitus

There are increasing numbers of people living with type 1 diabetes mellitus. The main aim of treatment for diabetes is to maintain good quality of life and to minimise, or prevent, the development of diabetic complications by controlling blood glucose levels. Women with type 1 diabetes frequently express difficulties in controlling their blood glucose levels during the menopausal phase of their lives. However, the cause of this has not been explored.

Routine hospital admission versus outpatient or home care in children at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes mellitus

Traditionally, children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have been admitted to hospital to make sure that blood sugar and symptoms of the disease are well controlled and to teach the child and his/her family how to manage the diabetes. In some cases, the child is acutely ill and needs hospital admission to receive intravenous fluids, but in many cases the child is not acutely ill. Being in hospital is often stressful for children and their families and home‐based care may provide a more natural environment for the children and families to learn how to deal with the diabetes. This review asked the question whether there are any benefits or dangers of using this type of care. We found only data of limited quality and or applicability, so no clear answers are possible. The seven studies we looked at suggested that home management of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes does not lead to any disadvantages in terms of blood glucose, acute diabetic complications and hospitalisations, psychological variables and behaviour, or total costs. This would be particularly relevant for children not acutely ill, but also for children who require a short period of initial treatment in the hospital.

Metformin added to insulin therapy for type 1 diabetes mellitus in adolescents

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder resulting from a defect in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. Metabolic control (glycaemic control, that is long‐term blood glucose levels as measured by glycosylated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)) often deteriorates during puberty in children with type 1 diabetes possibly due to the development of insulin resistance (insulin does not work effectively in the tissues anymore) and this creates a great need for alternative therapeutic strategies in those patients. We searched for randomised controlled trials of good quality that studied the effects of metformin added to insulin therapy for type 1 diabetes mellitus in adolescents on glycaemic control, insulin sensitivity, health‐related quality of life, side‐effects as well as effects on body weight, serum lipids and insulin dose.

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Terms to know

Beta Cells
A cell that makes insulin. Beta cells are located in the islets of the pancreas.
Blood Glucose
The main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.
Glucagon
A hormone produced by the pancreas that increases the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Hyperglycemia
Higher than normal amount of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. Hyperglycemia can be a sign of diabetes or other conditions. Also called high blood sugar.
Hypoglycemia
Also called low blood glucose, a condition that occurs when one's blood glucose is lower than normal, usually below 70 mg/dL. Signs include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, and confusion.
Insulin
A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, insulin is taken by injection or other means.
Pancreas
An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.

More about Type 1 Diabetes

Photo of a young adult

Also called: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, Juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, IDDM

See Also: Blood Glucose Montoring, Type 2 Diabetes

Other terms to know: See all 7
Beta Cells, Blood Glucose, Glucagon

Related articles:
Methods of Using Insulin

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