The American Diabetes Association offers the following definition: "Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life."
The Joslin Diabetes Center uses a longer description: "Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose backs up in the bloodstream — causing one’s blood glucose (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) to rise too high." They then say, "In type 1 (fomerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent) diabetes, the body completely stops producing any insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose found in foods for energy. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive. This form of diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, but can occur at any age."
There are some common misconceptions. Among them:
- you get it from being fat,
- you get it from eating too much sugar,
- injecting insulin is a cure,
- if a person with diabetes just follows their doctor's instructions, it is easily controlled,
- high or low blood sugar is the patient's fault,
- people with diabetes can never eat sugar,
- eventually, a person with diabetes will go blind, get a leg cut off or will go on dialysis.