diabetes mellitus, Type I

diabetes mellitus, Type I

A disease, commonly starting in adolescence, in which the supply of INSULIN is insufficient for the body's needs. Type I diabetes results from destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the PANCREAS by an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE process probably triggered by a virus infection. Insulin stimulates the passage of glucose from the blood through cell membranes into the cells to be utilized as fuel. In the absence of insulin the muscles are deprived of fuel, and sugar accumulates in the blood and is excreted into the urine, taking much water with it. There is excessive urination, DEHYDRATION and great thirst. Protein and fats are consumed as fuel. The muscles waste and dangerous acidic compounds called ketone bodies are formed. These can cause diabetic coma and death. Diabetes has many serious complications, especially bleeding within the eyes from RETINOPATHY, kidney degeneration and obstruction to large blood vessels. Type I diabetes is always treated with insulin. Best treatments involves multiple daily blood sugar checks and informed awareness of the glycaemic effects of food intake and the effects of exercise. See also ISLET TRANSPLANTATION.
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