According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.5 million Americans receive a diabetes diagnosis each year. Of the millions of Americans living with a diabetes diagnosis, only about 5 percent have Type 1 Diabetes. In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, learn more about this disease to prevent future blindness or kidney failure.


What Is Type 1 Diabetes?


Type 1 Diabetes means the pancreas no longer produces insulin, which is a required hormone for the body. Insulin allows the body to turn sugar from what we eat into energy, or store it for future use. This differs from Type 2, which is insulin resistance.

In the medical field, we used to call Type 1 Diabetes juvenile onset diabetes, because we mostly saw it in kids. However, this has changed in the last decade.


What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?


While we don’t know the true cause for diabetes, we do know there’s a genetic predisposition to it and some type of environmental exposure occurs. Our guess is the environmental exposure is probably a virus. The body makes antibodies to fight the virus, but because the virus is similar to cells in the pancreas, the body’s immune system accidentally destroys insulin-producing cells. The pancreas eventually fails, resulting in Type 1 Diabetes.


How is Type 1 Diabetes Treated?


Insulin, diet and exercise work together to treat diabetes. At Schuster Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manual Medicine, I prescribe a long-acting insulin, which usually lasts 24 hours. Bodies naturally produce insulin at all times, so this mimics that process. 

The body also creates more insulin when we eat, so I prescribe short-acting insulin for patients to take before a meal. By understanding how the patient’s body reacts to insulin and what the individual’s typical diet consists of, I tailor the amount of insulin given to help control the patient’s blood sugar. Therefore, it’s crucial I get to know each patient. Some people require insulin at bedtime as well. Supplemental insulin can be given if one’s blood sugar ends up high due to something they ate or an illness (being sick decreases insulin’s effectiveness).


Can Type 1 Diabetes Be Prevented?


At this time, the medical field doesn’t understand enough about what causes Type 1 Diabetes to prevent it, but we can control it once it occurs. When we control the disease, we help prevent the long-term complications diabetes can cause.

Type 1 Diabetes affects small vessels in our bodies, such as the vessels at the back of the eyes or in our kidneys. As a result, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney disease in our country. Diabetes can affect every part of the body. By controlling blood sugar through insulin, diet and exercise, we try to prevent these complications from occurring.

If you would like to learn more about caring for diabetes, please give me a call at 317-434-1750 or schedule a consultation by filling out the contact form on our website. I look forward to hearing from you.

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