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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is type 1 diabetes?

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    Diabetes Australia is the national peak body for diabetes in Australia providing a single, powerful, collective voice for people living with diabetes, their families and … View Profile

    Type 1 diabetes (or diabetes mellitus) is a life-long autoimmune disease that usually occurs in childhood but can be diagnosed at any age.

    Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system mistakenly turning on itself, destroying beta cells within the pancreas and removing the body's ability to produce insulin. Insulin allows the body to process sugar to create energy, without insulin, the body literally starves as it cannot process food.

  • Olga Lutzko

    Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator

    At ‘Succeed in Diabetes’ we believe in helping you achieve your success in diabetes management. Olga has thirteen years experience in helping clients with insulin … View Profile

    In type 1 diabetes the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach, stops making insulin. Without insulin, the body’s cells cannot turn glucose (sugar), into energy. Without insulin the body burns its own fats as a substitute. Unless treated with daily injections of insulin, people with type 1 diabetes accumulate dangerous chemical substances in their blood from the burning of fat. This can cause a condition known as ketoacidosis.This condition is potentially life threatening if not treated.To stay alive, people with type 1 diabetes depend on up to four insulin injections every day of their lives. They must test their blood glucose levels several times daily. The onset of type 1 diabetes typically occurs in people under 30 years, but can occur at any age. About 10-15% of all cases of diabetes are type 1.

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age. However, it is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents, or young adults.
    Insulin is a hormone produced by special cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas. The pancreas is found behind your stomach. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells produce little or no insulin.
    Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. The body is unable to use this glucose for energy. This leads to the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
    The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Most likely it is an autoimmune disorder. An infection or some other trigger causes the body to mistakenly attack the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This kind of disorder can be passed down through families.
    These symptoms may be the first signs of type 1 diabetes, or may occur when the blood sugar is high:
    • Being very thirsty
    • Feeling hungry
    • Feeling tired or fatigued
    • Having blurry eyesight
    • Losing the feeling or feeling tingling in your feet
    • Losing weight without trying
    • Urinating more often
    For other people, these warning symptoms may be the first signs of type 1 diabetes, or they may happen when the blood sugar is very high
    • Deep, rapid breathing
    • Dry skin and mouth
    • Flushed face
    • Fruity breath odour
    • Nausea or vomiting, inability to keep down fluids

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