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Most frequently asked questions concerning Type I diabetes (insulin dependent) September 7, 2015

How does Type I diabetes develop?

Diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks pancreatic islet cells. Over a period of time, all of the insulin-producing cells are destroyed.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows glucose from the food we eat to give our cells energy. Insulin is necessary for life. Those with Type I diabetes must inject it into their bodies multiple times a day. There are four different types of insulin: rapid action, short action, intermediate action, and long action.

What is a normal blood sugar level and what makes it fluctuate?

In general, optimal blood sugar goals are in the range of 60 to 120 mg/dl before meals. Blood sugar levels will fluctuate due to the interaction among four variables: food intake, physical activity, stress, and insulin.

Can you avoid getting Type I or Type II diabetes?

An environmental cause of Type I diabetes has been postulated but not identified. The onset of Type II diabetes may be a function of improper diet, obesity and inadequate exercise. Diabetes prevention studies being conducted by the National Institutes of Health are underway to determine who may be most vulnerable to Type I and Type II diabetes, and whether the onsets can be delayed or prevented.

When is there going to be a cure? Are we close?

Researchers are making tremendous progress. The discovery that Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease has directed researchers toward important strategies for prevention and intervention, some of which are currently being tested. There may be a cure as soon as 2007!

How many children have diabetes? What are the statistics by age group in the US?

There are currently between 500,000 and 800,000 people in the United States with Type I diabetes, the vast majority of whom are children, some as young as three months. There are more than 15 million people in the United States with Type II diabetes (adult-onset), a disease that typically develops in men and women after age 40.

Why must children have so many insulin shots and blood sugar tests each day?

Blood sugar levels can vary widely in young children and adolescents because of variations in activity levels, food intake, amount of sleep, childhood illnesses, etc. To maintain blood sugar levels within a safe range for a child, frequent testing and frequent injections are often necessary.

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