Over 45 million people around the world live with Type 1 Diabetes, including over 300,000 in Canada.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. Normally, beta cells in the pancreas produce insulin, a hormone that allows an individual to get energy from food. In T1D, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells.
Although the causes of T1D are not yet fully understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Onset of T1D has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. T1D is not preventable, and, at present, there is no cure.
Living with a life-threatening disease presents many challenges, and life expectancy for those with T1D may be reduced by as much as 15 years.
On any given day, people with Type 1 Diabetes must:
- Weigh and measure all their food
- Take extra carbohydrates for all activities
- Do 4 to 6 finger pokes to check their blood sugar levels
- Take 3-5 insulin needles or wear an insulin pump 24 hours a day
Complications may include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and amputation. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, there are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes, and another Canadian is diagnosed every three minutes.