This used to be called juvenile diabetes because most people were diagnosed before they ended their teens. But now it's clear that you can get it at any age.
When you get type 1 diabetes, your pancreas has stopped working properly. This organ contains cells that create insulin, glucagon and other hormones. The insulin is needed so the cells of your body can process the blood sugar created whenever you eat food containing carbohydrates. Without insulin your blood sugar increases and there's no way for your body to use it.
What are the symptoms for type 1 diabetes?
- Extreme thirst. This is the most obvious one. My mother described it as "wanting to drink out of the toilet bowl". Think about drinking several glasses of water and still feeling thirsty.
- Lots of peeing. That's because of the water and your body trying to get rid of the sugar floating around your blood stream. Your urine is actually sweet. Mellitus (as in diabetes mellitus, the medical term for type 1 diabetes) is the Latin word for honey.
- Extreme loss of weight. You've got sugar in your blood, but your body can't use it. So it breaks down its energy reserves (fat). One of the by-products of fat break is ketones. The night before I was first diagnosed with diabetes I lost over 10 pounds.
- Extreme hunger. Even though you've got all this sugar in your system, your body can't digest it so you feel hungry.
- Blurry vision. The density of your blood changes. This changes how your eyes focus.
- Slower wound healing. Instead of clearing up in a few days a small cut or scrape can take over a week, or even longer. When I was diagnosed I had a cut on my toe that was over three weeks old. Once I started on insulin it disappeared in about five days.
- Fruity breath. This is from the ketones. It tastes fruity and the smell may remind you of nail polish remover. Dentists often diagnose diabetes due to this smell or .
- Itchy genitals. That sugar in your urine can cause urinary tract infections.
- Fatigue. The extremely high blood sugar can cause urinary tract infections.
These days the tools for treating diabetes are pretty good. But it still takes a lot of support and help to really manage living with diabetes. Don't try to do this alone.
If you've already got diabetes there's lots of useful places online where you learn more about taking care of yourself and your diabetes. Try the Diabetes OC for a list of diabetes blogs. TuDiabetes.com is the first of many other social networking sites for people with diabetes. There's even a weekly television program for diabetes, dLife.
I created a diabetes search tool to make it easier to find diabetes information online. I use the advertising revenue to support the research by Dr. Denise Faustman into a possible type 1 diabetes cure. To date, I've raised about $50 for this cause.
If you've already got type 1 diabetes, today is the perfect day to raise awareness. Do people at work know how to treat you if your blood sugar goes low? Can you share information about living with type 1 on your blog, or maybe an article in your local newspaper? Do your best to spread the word.
For today, I'll be using Twitter every time I do something due to my diabetes. This way others can see what I do to control it, and maybe learn more to help themselves or others.
Have a wonderful Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day.
And why not give a hug to anyone with type 1 diabetes today?