Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which your immune system destroys insulin-making cells in your pancreas. These are called beta cells. The condition is usually diagnosed in children and young people, so it used to be called juvenile diabetes. Without insulin, too much glucose stays in your blood. Over time, high blood glucose can lead to serious problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth.
A person with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin for the rest of their life. Not doing so can result in ever-increasing blood sugar levels and dangerous complications. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, although it is more common in children and young adults.
Type 1 diabetes Symptoms
Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can appear relatively suddenly and may include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bed-wetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed during the night
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Irritability and other mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
Type 1 diabetes Causes
Insulin is a hormone that helps move sugar, or glucose, into your body’s tissues. Your cells use it as fuel. Damage to beta cells from type 1 diabetes throws the process off. Glucose doesn’t move into your cells because insulin isn’t there to do the job. Instead, it builds up in your blood, and your cells starve. This causes high blood sugar, which can lead to:
Dehydration. When there’s extra sugar in your blood, you pee more. That’s your body’s way of getting rid of it. A large amount of water goes out with that urine, causing your body to dry out.
Weight loss. The glucose that goes out when you pee takes calories with it. That’s why many people with high blood sugar lose weight. Dehydration also plays a part.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If your body can’t get enough glucose for fuel, it breaks down fat cells instead. This creates chemicals called ketones. Your liver releases the sugar it stores to help out. But your body can’t use it without insulin, so it builds up in your blood, along with the acidic ketones. This mix of extra glucose, dehydration, and acid buildup is known as ketoacidosis and can be life-threatening if not treated right away.
Damage to your body. Over time, high glucose levels in your blood can harm the nerves and small blood vessels in your eyes, kidneys, and heart. They can also make you more likely to get hardened arteries, or atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Type 1 diabetes Risk factors
Family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
Genetics. The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Geography. The incidence of type 1 diabetes tends to increase as you travel away from the equator.
Age. Although type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, it appears at two noticeable peaks. The first peak occurs in children between 4 and 7 years old, and the second is in children between 10 and 14 years old.
Type 1 diabetes Complications
Over time, type 1 diabetes complications can affect major organs in your body, including heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys. Maintaining a normal blood sugar level can dramatically reduce the risk of many complications. Type 1 diabetes can lead to other problems, especially if it isn’t well-controlled. Complications include:
Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes can put you at a higher risk of blood clots, as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol. These can lead to chest pain, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.
Skin problems. People with diabetes are more likely to get bacterial or fungal infections. Diabetes can also cause blisters or rashes.
Gum disease. A lack of saliva, too much plaque, and poor blood flow can cause mouth problems.
Pregnancy problems. Women with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of early delivery, birth defects, stillbirth, and preeclampsia.
Retinopathy. This eye problem happens in about 80% of adults who have had type 1 diabetes for more than 15 years. It’s rare before puberty, no matter how long you’ve had the disease. To prevent it — and keep your eyesight — keep good control of blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Kidney damage. About 20% to 30% of people with type 1 diabetes get a condition called nephropathy. The chances go up over time. It’s most likely to show up 15 to 25 years after the onset of diabetes. It can lead to other serious problems like kidney failure and heart disease.
Poor blood flow and nerve damage. Damaged nerves and hardened arteries lead to a loss of feeling in and a lack of blood supply to your feet. This raises your chances of injury and makes it harder for open sores and wounds to heal. When that happens, you could lose a limb. Nerve damage can also cause digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Type 1 diabetes Diagnosis
If your doctor thinks you have type 1 diabetes, they’ll check your blood sugar levels. They may test your urine for glucose or chemicals your body makes when you don’t have enough insulin.
Type 1 diabetes Treatment
People who have type 1 diabetes can live long, healthy lives. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels. Your doctor will give you a range that the numbers should stay within. Adjust your insulin, food, and activities as necessary.
Everyone with type 1 diabetes needs to use insulin shots to control their blood sugar.
When your doctor talks about insulin, they’ll mention three main things:
- “Onset” is how long it takes to reach your bloodstream and begin lowering your blood sugar.
- “Peak time” is when insulin is doing the most work in terms of lowering your blood sugar.
- “Duration” is how long it keeps working after onset.
Several types of insulin are available.
Rapid-acting starts to work in about 15 minutes. It peaks about 1 hour after you take it and continues to work for 2 to 4 hours.
Regular or short-acting gets to work in about 30 minutes. It peaks between 2 and 3 hours and keeps working for 3 to 6 hours.
Intermediate-acting won’t get into your bloodstream for 2 to 4 hours after your shot. It peaks from 4 to 12 hours and works for 12 to 18 hours.
Long-acting takes several hours to get into your system and lasts about 24 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions about Type 1 diabetes
Can diabetes Type 1 be prevented?
Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented. There’s no reliable way to predict who will get type 1 diabetes, but blood tests can find early signs of it. These tests aren’t done routinely, however, because doctors don’t have any way to stop a child from developing the disease, even if the tests are positive.
How can you prevent type 1?
If you maintain a healthy weight, eat a moderate diet, and get regular exercise, you greatly increase the chance that you’ll have a healthy heart.
What is type 1 diabetes and how is it controlled?
It helps your body use glucose (sugar) for energy. In type 1 diabetes your pancreas no longer makes insulin, so you have to inject it to control your blood glucose levels. There are different types of insulin, taken at different times.
What triggers type 1 diabetes?
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Usually, the body’s own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet, or islets of Langerhans) cells in the pancreas.