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If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin. This is because the immune system has misinterpreted the insulin producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas as foreign and started attacking these cells. With time, the body’s ability to produce insulin and regulate blood sugar is reduced to the extent that one starts to develop symptoms.

Why do we need insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas. The beta cells do this to communicate to other cells in the body that there is sugar in the blood that can be used as energy. When the body is not producing enough insulin on its own, treatment with external insulin is required. Without insulin, the sugar gets left in the blood and the body’s cells must get energy from other sources, for example fat. Acidic ketones are formed if the cells burn a lot of fat. High ketone levels are harmful to the body and can lead to the potentially life-threatening condition ketoacidosis, often abbreviated DKA.

How is type 1 diabetes treated today?
People living with type 1 diabetes have to monitor their blood sugar frequently and continuously keep it in check by administering insulin, often with the help of an insulin pen or pump. The disease requires constant vigilance and awareness from the patient. The recent technological advancements in continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and smarter pens and pumps have eased the burden on type 1 diabetics greatly but they cannot replace a working pancreas. With time, more and more of the residual beta cells that were left at the time of diagnosis are destroyed and the disease becomes more difficult to manage.

What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Feeling very tired
  • Blurred vision
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Fast weight reduction