Written by Katelyn Schwanke (last updated September 5, 2008)
Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed during early childhood, so it is important for parents and children alike to understand what it is and what it takes to live with type 1 diabetes. In general diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) occurs because of an insulin deficiency or an insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that is released into the bloodstream when food is digested and broken down into sugar molecules called glucose. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the brain signals the pancreas (an organ used in hormonal- and digestive- regulation) to release insulin, which is necessary to help the glucose molecules move from the bloodstream into muscles and other tissues. If you have type 1 diabetes you are insulin deficient (you have too little insulin to adequately lower blood sugar).
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include thirst, fatigue, blurred vision and weight loss. If you notice these symptoms you should talk to your doctor and he will advise you on a few simple techniques for monitoring and controlling your blood sugar so that you can live a long and happy life. Unlike type 2 diabetes (typically diagnosed in adults) you cannot control type 1 with exercise and improved eating habits. Type 1 diabetes is managed with insulin shots or an insulin pump. An insulin pump is a small monitor (cell-phone size) with a cartridge of insulin inside. The pump is attached to tubing that attaches to a catheter (small tube that stays in your body for delivery of insulin) so insulin can be taken whenever needed. The catheter inserts in your back or stomach. Shots are single use and must be administered at night (to combat high blood sugar in the morning) and right before eating any food.
Neither the shot nor the pump is better but personal circumstances do usually favor one over the other. If you are an extremely active individual, the shots may be a better way to go so that you do not constantly have to take your pump on and off (as is recommended for physical activity). The pump is better for little kids and for those who feel it is less of a hassle to have to remember the shots. The only advantage that some claim pumps have is that they offer an automatic route to delivering your insulin. You are not committed to the pump or the shots once you start one or the other; if you choose to begin with a pump, you may take "pump vacations" where you administer shots for a period of time.
Consistent monitoring of blood sugar with a glucometer (blood sugar testing machine that requires a small dot of blood from a finger) and use of insulin shots or pumps can make living with type 1 diabetes relatively simple and safe.
With so many different types of diabetes it is hard to distinguish among them which ones are which; if you have a child ...Discover More