Type I diabetes, which is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a disease with lifelong effects. While there isn’t yet a cure available for type I diabetes, there are treatments that can help minimize the damage the disease does. That makes it important to diagnose it as soon as possible.
Type I diabetes occurs when the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed by an autoimmune process. This makes it difficult for the body to regulate blood sugar levels. Patients must take insulin and follow a restrictive diet. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center say the main symptom to look for is excessive thirst or drinking a lot of water.
People with diabetes may also lose weight, feel ill, be excessively tired, have abdominal pains, or have vision changes.
Your doctor will perform a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test to check for diabetes. The test measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to the hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body on red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar, the more will be attached to the hemoglobin. An A1C level of 6.5 on two or more occasions indicates you have type I diabetes. An A1C level of 5.7 to 6.4 is considered prediabetic.
Type I diabetes requires a lifelong commitment to taking insulin, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, and monitoring your blood sugar. Insulin is necessary for type I diabetes, and can be taken either orally or by injection. Your doctor may prescribe other medications in addition to insulin to help control blood sugar levels.
If you suspect you or a loved one might have diabetes, talk to a specialist at UT Southwestern.