Diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
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Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children and young adults. The American Diabetes Association reports that only 5% of individuals with diabetes have this form. In T1DM, the pancreas fails to produce the hormone insulin, which is needed to convert sugar, starch, and other food into the energy the body needs.

Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms vary from person to person, but the following are common to many individuals with T1DM:
  • Frequent thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unintentional or unexplained weight loss
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Blurred vision
Cause/Common Triggers
Although the exact cause of T1DM is unknown, researchers believe that autoimmune disorders or certain genetic conditions may increase an individual’s risk for developing the disease.

Tests and Diagnosis
If a diagnosis of diabetes is suspected or confirmed, your child will be referred to a pediatric endocrinologist who will probably order several tests.

Common tests include hemoglobin A1C, which indicates the average blood glucose level over a 2- to 3-month period; random blood glucose levels;

and fasting blood glucose levels.

Prevention
To date, there is no known way to prevent T1DM.

Management
Patients with T1DM should adhere to the following management guidelines:
  • Check blood glucose levels at least a few times a day. Your doctor will tell you how many times to test per day.
  • Adhere to the prescribed medication and treatment regimen.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace stating that you have diabetes.
  • Keep glucagon or glucose tablets on hand in cases of hypoglycemia.
  • Always have insulin handy.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet and adhere to your recommended nutrition plan.
  • Exercise regularly to help maintain normal blood glucose levels.
  • Maintain routine appointments with your doctor.
  • Conduct routine skin and foot examinations, and have annual eye exams.
Treatment and Care
In general, treatment for T1DM includes the following:
  • Taking insulin or other medications prescribed by your doctor<
  • Daily and frequent blood glucose monitoring
  • Counting carbohydrates
  • Following a suggested diabetic nutrition plan
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
Homeopathic and Alternative Remedies
Some people with diabetes turn to complementary and alternative medicine for treatment. Some of these therapies may be effective, whereas others can be ineffective or even harmful. Patients who use complementary and alternative medicine therapies should keep their health care providers informed and always consult their primary health care provider before using any of these types of therapy.

Self-Care
When individuals with diabetes seek OTC medications for other medical conditions, it is critical to speak with a pharmacist about which medications can help treat the condition without worsening it.

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