November is National Diabetes Month. The goal for this month is to share information about diabetes, raise awareness, and encourage people to get involved. There are many misconceptions about diabetes, one of the biggest being that there’s no real distinction between type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Some people may not even know that there are different types of diabetes; however, T1D and T2D are quite different.
Type 1 diabetes is far less common than T2D, but it is no less serious. T1D used to be known as juvenile diabetes because it is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, but that has led to some confusion. Type 1 diabetes does not just affect children. People with T1D are affected by the disease for their entire lives.
Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not produce insulin. Without insulin, your body cannot properly transfer glucose from the bloodstream to cells in the body. Since people with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, they must take insulin to help manage their blood glucose levels.
If you’re familiar at all with type 1 diabetes, you know that the disease can be difficult to control. It is possible, however, for those with T1D to manage it, and live long and healthy lives. Regulating blood sugar levels can help reduce the risk of complications, but there are a number of health problems that can result from T1D. Type one diabetes increases your risk for cardiovascular problems, nerve damage, kidney damage, and vision loss, among other potential health problems.
It’s important to recognize that T1D is not brought about by lifestyle choices, or by excessive amounts of sugar, or by anything that is within a person’s control. The exact causes of T1D are unknown, but what is known is that it’s not determined by diet, and no amount of exercise can prevent it. That doesn’t mean diet and exercise aren’t important, though. If you’re living with type 1 diabetes it is all the more important to make healthy life choices to manage the disease.
T1D requires around the clock diligence. It’s a very challenging disease that requires constant monitoring. There is currently not a cure for Type 1 diabetes, although work is being done to find a cure. Help get involved and show your support, not just this month but all year-long. Use #T1DLooksLikeMe to join the conversation and visit the JDRF website to learn more about type 1 diabetes.