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Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms, Causes and Treatment



Type I diabetes usually starts in childhood, but can occur in adults (30 to 40-year-olds). The pancreas cannot make insulin to help body cells convert sugar into energy, which causes the sugar to build up in the blood that can cause life-threatening complications. Individuals with type I diabetes must take some form of insulin for the rest of their lives.Symptoms of type I diabetes may appear suddenly and can include the following:

Frequent urination (polyuria)
Drinking more water because of excessive thirst (polydipsia)
Feeling excessively hungry (polyphagia)
Dry mouth
Fruity breath
Fatigue
Weight loss
Because the blood sugar levels remain high and the body then metabolizes fat for energy, people with type I diabetes develop unintentional weight loss, and an increase in appetite. Because glucose metabolism is disrupted, they also feel a lack of energy and may be drowsy for extended periods.The disruption in glucose metabolism in people with type I diabetes causes other problems such as a higher risk for bacterial infections, fungal infections, and skin changes that result in itching and dry skin. Poor blood circulation in the skin also may occur. Girls with type I diabetes are at risk for vaginal yeast infections, while babies who have the disease can develop severe diaper rash due to the yeast Candida albicans. The diaper rash can spread to other areas of the body such as the stomach and legs.People with untreated type 1 diabetes can experience serious symptoms such as blurry vision, numbness or tingling in the extremities (especially the feet), loss of consciousness, and diabetic coma. In contrast to high sugars in the blood, occasionally people with type I diabetes can get low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) when their blood glucose level falls suddenly.

In people with type 1 diabetes loss of consciousness, diabetic coma, and in some cases hypoglycemia are medical emergencies. Some people who are undiagnosed may have no warning signs, yet still can develop diabetic coma or hypoglycemia.The problem with type I diabetes is that the person’s cells are deprived of the sugar they need for energy. Without the insulin produced by the pancreas, sugar has difficulty entering the body’s cells. Consequently, the body cells start burning fat for energy, which causes ketones to build up in the blood. These acids can change the person’s blood pH level and can trigger a life-threatening coma. This is termed diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency that needs to be treated quickly, usually in a hospital setting.

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