Over 30 million Americans are affected by Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, and globally, the statistics are even more alarming: over 380 million.
Type 2 diabetes is often, but not always, attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle and 80% of cases are preventable. Like Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes puts the person at greater risk for a greater range of complications.
Type 1 diabetes, or T1D, is an auto-immune disease where the pancreas no longer produces insulin, the hormone needed to convert the glucose in food into energy for the body. Without insulin, glucose remains in the blood, where it can cause damage to all the organ systems of the body. People with T1D are insulin dependent and must inject or pump insulin into their bodies to stay alive and there is currently nothing that can be done to prevent this disease. T1D affects roughly 3 million Americans, with 80 new cases being diagnosed each day, half of those diagnosed each day are children and half are adults.
People with Type 1 diabetes must carefully calculate their insulin doses with their food intake, exercise and other environmental factors in order to avoid life-threatening conditions. Every day is a careful balancing act, much like that which faces a tight rope walker, where one false step-one miscalculation-can have devastating complications.
Knowing the symptoms of Type 1 is critical, as the symptoms can easily be attributed to more common, non-life threatening illnesses and misdiagnosis can often have tragic consequences. Symptoms include extreme thirst, frequent urination, sudden vision changes, fruity or sweet breath, sudden weight loss, drowsiness and labored or excessive breathing.
It is not yet known what causes Type 1 diabetes, but most scientists agree there are genetic, environmental and auto-immune factors involved. While there is no cure, each day significant work is being done to improve care, incorporate technology for better management, and possibly prevent Type 1 diabetes, while continuing to search for a cure.