Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, also known as Juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic or lifelong condition that occurs when the pancreas fails to produce insulin to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels appropriately.

In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas produce little or no insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to enter body cells. Usually, the beta cells do not produce the required amount of insulin due to a massive error in the immune system where it begins attacking the body’s own beta cells. Destructive antibodies targeted against the beta cells appear in the blood long before enough damage has occurred to create symptoms.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease similar to lupus, pernicious anemia, or rheumatoid arthritis. Type 1 can start at any age but many cases begin in childhood, adolescence or the early adult years. Medical experts have not yet discovered what triggers the attack by the immune system. Researchers believe certain viruses and environmental toxins trigger the immune system’s attack by changing the beta cells so they appear foreign to the body.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is also called Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM).

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

At present, scientists do not know exactly what causes the body’s immune system to attack the beta cells, but they believe that autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors, possibly viruses, are involved. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed diabetes in the United States.

Type 1 diabetes develops most often in children and young adults, but the disorder can appear at any age. Type 1 diabetes symptoms usually develop over a short period, although beta cell destruction can begin years earlier.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis.

  • Feeling of thirst and excessive urination

    When you have type 1 diabetes, you want to drink more often. More sugar building up in your bloodstream pull the water content or fluids from your tissues resulting to feeling of thirst. Because you drink more often than usual, you urinate often too.

  • Extreme hunger

    Food when metabolized gives the body energy. The insulin is the hormone that drives sugar into the different organs and muscles; without insulin, then the body has no or less energy. This results to a feeling of extreme hunger usually noticeable even after just having your meal.

  • Unintended weight loss

    Muscle tissues are built by sugar (glucose) that gives energy to the body. Diabetic persons however may lose weight rapidly because the muscle tissues do not receive the energy needed for muscle building. Their muscles shrink and a person will noticeably appear thin or losing weight.

  • Tiredness

    When the body is without sugar, you have no energy to move or go about your usual activities. Thus, you easily feel tired, stressed or fatigued.

  • Blurred vision

    The sugar that are stored in your bloodstream pull your body tissues. One organ that is usually affected is the eyes. The lenses of the eyes are affected resulting to problem on focus or blurred vision.

  • Nausea

    Diabetes type 1 person may experience nausea or vomiting due to lack of energy. The body cells are depleted with energy resulting to feeling of extreme hunger or lethargy.

Incidence and Risk Factors

Type 1 occurs in one of every ten people with diabetes. It has both strong and weak genetic subgroups. Genetics is important, but in most cases is not a dominant factor. When both parents have type 1 diabetes, there is only a 20% chance that a child will get it.

Most type 1 diabetics (about 75%) have a weak or nonexistent inheritance pattern. They are often the only one in the family with type 1 diabetes. But in about one out of four there is a strong inheritance pattern with several members of the family having the disease. A type 1 diabetic will have a parent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister or two, or several cousins who have type 1 diabetes. There seems to be little or no link between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Prevention Rather than Cure

Benjamin Franklin wisely put its “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Complications that may arise from diabetes and can affect various important organs in your body, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. They key is to maintain blood sugar level within the normal level.

  • Blood pressure should be below 130/80 mm Hg.
  • Healthy cholesterol level should be under 200 mg.
  • Eye exam every year should be done to check your vision.
    Regular visit or twice a year visitation by the dentist to check your teeth and gums.
  • Avoid injury of your feet and check them every day for signs of injury and infection.
  • Get immunizations such as flu and a tetanus booster every 10 years.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Learn to manage your stress.

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