WHAT IS TYPE 1 DIABETES
Finding out you have
diabetes is scary. But don't panic! Sure, diabetes is serious.
But people with diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives.
You can too by taking good care of yourself.
In diabetes, there's too much glucose in
the blood. Glucose is a kind of sugar that your body's cells use
for fuel. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going
into cells, it can cause two problems. Right away, your cells
may be starved for energy. Over time, high glucose levels may
hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart.
There are two main kinds of diabetes. You
have insulin-dependent diabetes. It is also called Type I
diabetes. It used to be called juvenile diabetes (even though
adults get it too). You did not catch diabetes from someone
else. Instead, insulin-dependent diabetes is caused by
immune-mediated damage to the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ
near your stomach. The pancreas contains cells called beta
cells. Beta cells have a vital job: they make insulin, a hormone
that helps cells take in the glucose they need. Sometimes, the
beta cells get wiped out and cannot produce insulin anymore.
Without insulin, glucose stays in the blood instead of going
into cells. Many things might have killed your beta cells, but
in most people with insulin-dependent diabetes, the immune
system makes a mistake. Cells that should protect you from germs
instead attack your beta cells. The beta cells die. Without beta
cells, you make no insulin. Glucose builds up in your blood, and
you get diabetes.
You probably knew something was wrong
before your doctor said you had diabetes. You may have:
1 lost weight without trying,
2 had to use the bathroom a lot,
3 felt very hungry,
4 felt very thirsty,
5 had trouble seeing,
6 felt tired, and/or gone into a coma.
Taking care of
your type 1 diabetes
The problem in diabetes is too much glucose
in the blood. So the goal of treatment is to lower glucose
1 insulin shots
2 good diet, and
Your beta cells no longer make insulin. But you need insulin to
live. Insulin injections or shots replace the insulin you no
longer make. Insulin shots let your cells take in glucose. Then
you no longer have too much glucose in your blood. Your
tiredness, hunger and thirst and frequent urination go away.
Your doctor or endocrinologist will tell
you what kind of insulin to take, how much and when. At first,
you might feel afraid. Remember how scary riding a bike was?
Giving yourself shots or injections will become as easy as
riding a bike.
When you eat, your body digests and changes food into glucose.
Your blood glucose levels go up. You deal with this rise in two
ways: taking insulin shots before meals, and/or eating a
healthy, low-calorie diet. In the early days before insulin was
discovered, people with diabetes ate a limited diet. For
example, they didn't eat any sugar at all. Today, you have many
choices. The best diet for a person with diabetes is like the
best diet for anybody. Such a diet is low in fat, has only
moderate amounts of protein, and is high in complex
carbohydrates, like those in beans, vegetables, and grains (such
as breads, cereals, noodles, and rice).
The diet for diabetes does need one special
thing--consistency. It's best to eat about the same number of
calories each day, plan your meals and snacks for the same times
each day, and never skip meals.
Each person is different. You and your
dietician will work out a meal plan just for you. To make sure
your plan fits your life, tell your dietician and doctor what
foods you like and don't like, your daily schedule, other health
problems you have, and your exercise habits.
Being active helps your cells take in glucose. It lowers
glucose levels in your blood. So exercise is good for most
people with diabetes. Tell your doctor about the types of
exercise you do now. Your doctor will help you fit them into
your new lifestyle. If you don't exercise already, your doctor
may advise you to become more active.