Once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that results when the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Your body needs insulin to transfer sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells of the body's tissues, giving you the energy you need for daily activities.
Researchers have figured out that genetics and the environment play a combined role in type 1 diabetes. This means that some people who have a specific genetic make-up (or who are "genetically predisposed") can get type 1 diabetes when they come in contact with harmful toxins or certain viruses in the environment.
Type 1 diabetes causes the body to attack and destroy the cells that produce insulin. Since these cells also produce the hormone amylin, their destructions leads to a shortage of both insulin and amylin. When you don't have enough insulin and amylin, your body can't control the amount of glucose in the blood. In addition, the body's own production of glucose is increased because of the lack of insulin. This, in turn, causes glucose levels to rise further, leading to a condition called high blood sugar. Since the body can't produce its own insulin, patients with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections to get blood glucose levels under control.
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