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When Panic Attacks
When Panic Attacks

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Online learning resources for diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and nutrition.
Diabetes 101: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels, and your diet.
Diabetes 201: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugars, and your diet.
Asthma 101: Learn more about asthma and dealing with shortness of breath.
Hypertension 101: Learn more about hypertension and managing your blood pressure.
Nutrition 101: Learn more about improving your nutrition and diet

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Lesson 4 - Type 1 Diabetes Explained

Who gets type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, to both males and females, but most often occurs in people under 30. It used to be called juvenile diabetes because it is frequently present in small children, but that naming convention ended as more and more adults and older children have been diagnosed. It is possible that a child can have a milder form of the disease and symptoms can be missed until a more severe onset at an older age.

From a broader perspective, prevalence rates differ in various countries. 20 percent of all patients with type 1 diabetes are in Scandinavia, 10 percent are in the U.S., and Japan and China combined have less than 1 percent.

What causes type 1 diabetes?

There is no certain answer to this question, however there are a few factors that can contribute to its onset. Some people are born with genes that make them more likely to develop the disease. These human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes are thought to both increase susceptibility to certain viruses, and/or influence other immune response genes, ultimately resulting in the self-destruction of the body's own insulin-producing pancreatic cells.

It is possible to contract a virus, such as mumps or coxsackie B4 virus), that attacks the pancreas and decreases the ability to produce insulin. It is also believed that a virus can bring about diabetes if it is composed of a substance that occurs naturally in your pancreas. If the virus and pancreas share a similar substance, the antibodies that your body produces to fight the virus can also attack the similar pancreatic substance.

Antibodies are proteins in the body that destroy germs or viruses. The self-destruction of insulin-producing cells revolves around autoantibodies, or "faulty" antibodies. "Auto" refers to "against self," meaning that these autoantibodies attack the body's own tissues (e.g. insulin-producing pancreatic cells). At the onset of their diabetes, 85 percent of people will have antibodies to pancreatic islet cells that make insulin. This explanation is further supported by evidence that people with both diagnosed type 1 diabetes and high levels of autoantibodies tend to have other autoimmune diseases as well.

Assignment #2

To whet your appetite for the following section about diabetes prevention, read this thought-provoking article about one family's effort to do just that.

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