Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the destruction of insulin beta cells in the pancreas, preventing the body from producing enough insulin to adequately regulate blood glucose levels.
Insulin-dependent diabetes is another term that can sometimes be used to describe type 1 diabetes.
Because type 1 diabetes causes a loss of insulin production, it requires regular insulin delivery, either by injecting with pens or insulin syringes.
Type 1 diabetes symptoms
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes must be treated immediately, as this type of diabetes can be fatal if left untreated.
- Increased thirst (polyphagia)
- Increased fatigue during the day
- Frequent urination
- Abnormally rapid weight loss
- genital itching
Type 1 diabetes tends to develop more slowly in adults than in children, and in some cases type 1 diabetes in adults can be misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is caused by a malfunction in the body’s immune response, in which the immune system misdirects and kills beta cells, the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin.
As more insulin-producing cells in the pancreas die, the body can no longer control blood glucose levels and symptoms of diabetes begin to appear.
What causes the initial error in the immune system remains to be seen, however research suggests that the condition is the result of a combination of genetic predisposition with an environmental trigger.
What causes the immune system to behave this way remains to be definitively determined. To date, the strongest evidence indicates that a virus is the most likely trigger.
Diagnosis of type 1 diabetes
If you have signs of diabetes, your doctor may use blood or urine tests to diagnose diabetes. Your doctor should consider what type of diabetes you have, as this may affect how your diabetes is treated. If the type of diabetes is unclear, your doctor may decide to do one or more of the following tests:
- Ketone test
- Test ( GADA ) – Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase
- Test for C-peptides (C- peptides )
Because type 1 diabetes can develop rapidly in children and young adults, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes should be accompanied by same-day referral to a pediatric diabetes management team.
Treatment of type 1 diabetes
The impairment of the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin in type 1 diabetes means that insulin treatment is necessary.
Most people will take insulin by injection using insulin pens. Insulin can also be delivered using an insulin pump. The use of an insulin pump will be considered in people who are interested in having one and who meet certain eligibility criteria.
It is important that you receive information on how to balance insulin doses with food and physical activity, and how to use blood glucose testing to help you manage your diabetes.
Maintaining physical activity and regular exercise and a healthy diet are also important for maintaining good blood glucose control and minimizing the risk of long-term complications of diabetes. Although diet and exercise play an important role in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, they cannot reverse the disease or eliminate the need for insulin.
Complications of type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition that can carry a significant risk of both short-term and long-term complications.
Short term complications
Short-term complications can occur if blood glucose levels become too low or insulin injections are missed. Short-term complications that may occur:
- Hypoglycemia – too low blood sugar
- Ketoacidosis – which can occur if doses of insulin are missed or blood glucose levels become too high
Long term complications
- Heart diseases
- kidney disease
While the list of complications is a daunting prospect, the chances of developing them can be greatly reduced by maintaining good blood glucose control and ensuring that you attend all of your screenings for diabetic complications.
Prevention of type 1 diabetes
In the future, research may find a way to stop the development of type 1 diabetes, but so far no intervention has been able to successfully prevent type 1 diabetes in humans.
Your risk of developing type 1 diabetes may depend on your genetics; those. if your parents or siblings have type 1 diabetes.
- In terms of type 1 diabetes inheritance, 2% risk if mother has type 1 diabetes, 8% risk if father has type 1 diabetes; and a 30% risk of a child developing type 1 diabetes if both parents are type 1.
- Within 20 years of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, almost everyone diagnosed has some degree of retinopathy.