Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease. In people with type 1 diabetes, cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed, and the body is unable to make insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body’s cells use glucose for energy. Your body gets glucose from the food you eat. Insulin allows the glucose to pass from your blood into your body’s cells.
When the cells have enough, your liver and muscle tissues store the extra glucose, also called blood sugar, in the form of glycogen. It’s broken down into blood sugar and released when you need energy between meals, during exercise, or while you sleep.
In type 1 diabetes, the body is unable to process glucose, due to the lack of insulin. Glucose from your food can’t make its way into the cells. This leaves too much glucose circulating in your blood. High blood sugar levels can lead to both short-term and long-term problems.
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The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. However, it’s thought to be an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks beta cells in the pancreas. These are the cells that make insulin. Scientists don’t fully understand why this happens.
Genetic and environmental elements, such as viruses, may play a role.
If you receive a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, your body can’t make its own insulin. You’ll need to take insulin to help your body use the sugar in your blood. Other treatments may also hold some promise for controlling symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day. You usually take the insulin through an injection.
Some people use an insulin pump. The pump injects insulin through a port in the skin. It can be easier for some people than sticking themselves with a needle. It may also help level out blood sugar highs and lows.
The amount of insulin you need varies throughout the day. People with type 1 diabetes regularly test their blood sugar to figure out how much insulin they need. Both diet and exercise can affect blood sugar levels.
Metformin is a type of oral diabetes medication. For many years, it was only used in people with type 2 diabetes. However, some people with type 1 diabetes can develop insulin resistance. That means the insulin they get from injections doesn’t work as well as it should.
Metformin helps lower sugar in the blood by reducing sugar production in the liver. Your doctor may advise you to take Metformin in addition to insulin.
A new oral medicine may be on the horizon for people with type 1 diabetes. Sotagliflozin (Zynquista) is awaiting FDA approval. If it gets the green light, this drug will be the first oral medication designed to be used alongside insulin in people with type 1 diabetes.
This medicine works to lower glucose levels in the blood by forcing the body to expel it in urine and by reducing glucose absorption in the gut. Similar medicines exist already for people with type 2 diabetes, but none are approved for people with type 1.
Note: Medicines should be taken only after prescribed by doctors.