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Diabetes continued
Although family-related, everyone is at risk

Type 1 diabetes. Aside from an accepted strong genetic link, the cause of type 1 diabetes is not known; but unlike type 2, it is a lifelong condition for which there is no cure, and lifestyle modifications have little effect. It presents when the body's autoimmune system activates to attack the beta cells in the pancreas halting the production of insulin, in turn allowing a build up of glucose. The kidneys then try to flush out the excess glucose resulting in dehydration. Meanwhile, the body is burning its own reserves of fat to supply energy, and this releases chemicals called ketone bodies which start to accumulate. With the incidence of high glucose and excess ketone levels plus dehydration a condition known as ketoacidosis occurs; and if it is not treated it can be fatal.

Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1 and it is the most common of conditions in young children. It presents quite abruptly with the obvious symptoms of unexplained weight loss; frequent and excessive thirst and urination; weakness and fatigue, along with blurred vision. Although it can strike at any age, in adults Type 1 is usually much slower to appear; and people under the age of 30 are more likely to be diagnosed with it. As mentioned, there is no cure.

Treatment of type 1 diabetes. It will require the constant monitoring of blood glucose levels and these can be controlled with regular injections of insulin, sometimes several times a day. In certain cases an insulin pump may be prescribed to deliver this. Leading a healthy lifestyle is still important, even though it won't fix type 1 diabetes; but it can delay the progress of type 2; and encouragingly in some cases, beat it altogether.

The main and most important message is: if you have some or all of the symptoms of diabetes, don't dismiss them. Seek medical advice straight away. It could be a life-saver.

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