Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a helper hormone that helps manage blood sugar (also known as blood glucose) levels. Type 1 diabetes often occurs in children, teens and young adults but may occur at any age and requires taking insulin daily. Early detection is key to preventing problems.

Why UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center?

The team at Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center provides expert consultation and ongoing care for patients with prediabetes, diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy and any diabetes-related complications and conditions.

Our center is unique in that we offer care and treatment across the lifespan. Our multidisciplinary health care team includes certified diabetes care and education specialists, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, registered dietitians, pharmacists, and social workers. We have an education center that provides first-class, cutting edge diabetes education in individual and group settings. Appointments are available both in-person and via telehealth.

Our outpatient location at UK HealthCare – Turfland provides a convenient, single location where patients can easily access many of their related health care services. UK HealthCare – Turfland, which offers abundant free parking, is home to many other expert clinical health care providers, including those from primary care, urgent care, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology/MRI, ophthalmology and more.

UK HealthCare’s state-of-the-art electronic health record uses the MyChart patient portal for communication between provider and patient.

How do providers work together to best serve their patients?

  • A multidisciplinary team of providers and diabetes care and education specialists coordinate a specific treatment plan tailored to each patient.
  • A comprehensive medical record network coordinates care among your healthcare team, as well as with local and regional health care facilities. The MyChart portal tool promotes quick and effective communication with our patients. 
  • Pediatric and adult teams housed in the same clinic offers a smooth transition of care as pediatric patients reach adulthood and transfer care to the adult team.
  • Increased thirst. Type 1 diabetes causes you to feel thirsty because you are losing more water than normal through your urine. This water loss can lead to dehydration.
  • Frequent urination. When the kidneys try to get rid of the excess sugar in the blood, they pull in more water. This leads to more urine. You may start getting up at night to go to the bathroom as well.
  • Fatigue. Type 1 diabetes can make you feel tired. This is associated with a change in blood sugar levels. The body also can’t efficiently produce the energy it needs.
  • Changes in vision, such as blurry vision or floating spots. High blood glucose can cause the lens of the eye to swell, leading to blurry vision. Over time, elevated blood glucose levels can contribute to blockages of the tiny blood vessels in the eye. When this happens, the blood vessels can leak fluid or bleed, which can damage the retina. The retina, located in the back of the eye, senses light and sends signals to the brain.
  • Losing weight without trying. Unintentional weight loss after developing type 1 diabetes is typically caused by the body losing sugar in the urine instead of using it for energy or storing it.
  • Increased hunger. You may feel hungry for the same reason you lose weight or feel tired. This may be because your body can’t produce the energy you need.

Type 1 diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks its insulin-making organ, the pancreas.  Experts are not sure of the exact cause of this autoimmune process, but they think it could be caused by:

  • Environmental factors. Early exposure to certain environmental factors, including certain viral infections, could trigger type 1 diabetes.
  • Family history. Genetics play a role in diabetes development. Having a family member with type 1 diabetes increases your chances of developing the disease.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. However, if you develop the condition, you can take the following steps to manage it:

  • Check your blood glucose and manage the levels. Regularly monitor your blood glucose levels and ensure they are in target. When they are frequently out of target, work with your healthcare provider to adjust your medication regimen. 
  • Eat well. With type 1 diabetes, you will need to focus on foods that will help keep your blood glucose levels in-range, such as non-starchy vegetables and lean protein. You may need to change the type and/or amount of carbohydrate foods (e.g., fruit, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, desserts, and sugar-sweetened beverages) you eat. Carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels.
  • Exercise. Physical activity helps your body use insulin better and lowers blood glucose. It also helps lower the risk of heart disease.
  • When your blood glucose is too low or too high, treat it right away. To prevent any complications from type 1 diabetes, know what to do when your levels are out of target. If they’re too low, eat or drink food that is high in sugar (e.g., fruit juice or glucose tablets). If they’re too high, take medication as instructed by your health care provider.

If you don’t manage your blood glucose, you are at higher risk for complications. These complications include:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a serious life-threatening condition that occurs when your body does not have enough insulin on board.
  • Diabetic nephropathy. Also known as diabetic kidney disease, this condition is characterized by a loss of kidney function over time.
  • Diabetic neuropathy. Damage to nerves caused by high blood sugar, this condition often begins as pain a tingly feeling and numbness in the hands and feet, but can become more severe and affect other parts of the body.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes vision loss due to damage to the retina.
  • Gastroparesis. This condition is caused by nerve damage to stomach muscles, causing delayed stomach emptying into the small intestine.
  • Slow-healing or nonhealing wounds. Restricted blood flow can keep wounds from healing in a timely manner.

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