theVisualMD: A New Way to See Your Health – What is Type 1 Diabetes?
The story of type 1 diabetes begins with your pancreas and your immune system. Your pancreas runs across the back of your abdomen, behind your stomach. The pancreas contains beta cells which produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that signals your body’s cells to take in energy in the form of blood glucose (also known as blood sugar). In type 1 diabetes, the pancreatic beta cells produce little or no insulin because the body’s immune system destroys the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. The result is that without insulin, glucose cannot enter cells to provide energy. The body’s cells begin to starve, leading to these symptoms: fatigue, weight loss, constant hunger, increased thirst, and frequent urination. When glucose cannot enter cells, it builds up in the bloodstream, leading to harmful complications such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, vision damage, and nerve damage.