What is Type 1 Diabetes?

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Lets break it down!  First of all, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.

What is an Autoimmune Disease?
An autoimmune disease results when your immune system malfunctions. Instead of protecting your body, your immune system mistakenly turns against you and kills important cells. In type 1 diabetes, the important cells that are killed by the immune system are called beta cells.

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What are Beta Cells?
Beta cells are located in an organ called the pancreas, which is sandwiched between the stomach and the spine.  Beta cells detect an increase in glucose levels in your bloodstream and in response they produce insulin.

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 12.43.33 AM What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that opens glucose channels in cells. With the glucose channels open, cells can absorb glucose from the bloodstream and use it to fuel internal reactions. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter cells and ends up staying in the bloodstream. This deprives cells of the energy they require.
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What is Glucose?
Glucose is an important type of sugar that acts as a source of energy in the body. Every cell uses this energy to fuel internal reactions that need to constantly take place in order to keep us alive. After a meal, food that contains carbohydrates is broken down into glucose, which gets absorbed from the intestines, into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, it can be delivered to all the cells in the body with the help of insulin.

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How Do You Manage Type 1 Diabetes? 
Maintaining a normal blood glucose level is critical for a person living with type 1 diabetes to remain healthy. People living with type 1 diabetes will routinely check their blood glucose levels with a glucose meter throughout the day and deliver insulin either by injection or by using an insulin pump to regulate blood glucose levels.

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What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?
Nobody knows exactly what causes type 1 diabetes.  However, recent research indicates that type 1 diabetes may be linked to genetics and environmental factors.

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What is the Difference Between Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are very different diseases. In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas have not been destroyed by the immune system. Instead, the beta cells are unable to produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce does not work properly. Lifestyle choices and genetics can play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

For more information about type 1 diabetes check out this fantastic video!

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