Type 1 diabetes (often called Juvenile Onset Diabetes) is categorized as a childhood or young adult disease but can in rare instances occur at a later age. Diabetes symptoms sometimes begin out of nowhere and can develop over just a few days. If the sufferer does not have a family history of the disease, the possibility of diabetes may not even be considered.
Fortunately many of the common diabetic symptoms are similar to the more controllable form of the disease, Type 2 diabetes. Only 5-10% of the people expressing the classic diabetic symptoms will in the end be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes sufferers have high blood glucose levels because their body does not have enough of the hormone insulin. This happens when the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them, causing the pancreas to make little or no insulin. The body needs insulin to use sugar, which is the basic fuel for cells. Insulin allows the sugar in the blood to enter the cells. No one knows why type 1 happens.
Previous research has suggested that children exposed to the insulin which can naturally be contained in cow's milk may develop antibodies to insulin. It is possible that in some genetically susceptible children, a continuous, even small-dose early exposure to bovine insulin in cow's milk may lead to loss of tolerance to insulin and subsequent Type 1 diabetes. Interestingly, one study found that in cases where the child had a diabetic mother rather than a diabetic father, this effect was less marked. [Science 155:26, June 26, 1999]
Relatives of people with Type 1 Diabetes, as well as the sufferers themselves, run a risk of developing celiac disease. The resulting inflammation and tissue damage reduces vitamin B12 absorption and may lead to Pernicious anemia, which occurs in approximately 1 in 50 adults with Type 1 Diabetes.
Signs of Type 1 Diabetes, as it progresses, may include dry skin, blurred vision, unexplained weight loss and a thin, malnourished appearance.
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