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Type 1 Diabetes

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Diabetes is a disease that causes an increase in blood glucose levels, that is, sugar levels. This happens when the pancreases stop scratching or secrete lesser levels of insulin that helps maintain blood sugar levels. This causes many health complications marked by an increase in thirst and frequent urination. It is very important to control the blood sugar levels as it could lead to many serious consequences. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Let us learn more about type 1 diabetes from the following paragraphs.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

When the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed due to an autoimmune disease, it leads to decrease in production of insulin. This causes an increase in blood sugar levels, leading to type 1 diabetes. This condition was also called as insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. It usually strikes children or adolescents, thus leading to the name juvenile diabetes.

This is an autoimmune disorder that where pancreatic cells that produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that converts glucose into energy. This form of energy is easily absorbed by the cells to perform various functions. However, when the cells can’t absorb glucose, it causes accumulation of glucose in the blood. High levels of sugar in the body can lead to many complications. Thus, management of diabetes is very important.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is said to be a genetic condition. The exact cause of the condition is still unknown. However, the condition may be triggered in the presence of a certain virus or toxin. The body starts destroying this foreign body and may ultimately start destroying the beta cells as a part of the autoimmune reaction. Thus, leading to little or no production of insulin by the pancreatic cells.

When this happens, the glucose will no longer be converted into the absorbable form. Thus, cells will no longer be able to take in nutrients and energy from the food and the glucose will start accumulating in the blood. The cells will be starved of usable energy. Thus, the body will start breaking down stored fats and proteins to provide energy to the cells. The sugar levels in the blood will continue to rise, leading to symptoms of diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop as a consequence of an increase in blood sugar level. The body starts using different ways to get rid of the excessive sugar levels and maintain balance. Some of the symptoms include the following:

In some cases, a person may develop diabetic ketoacidiosis (DKA). This is a condition that occurs when the body breaks down fat, causing an increase in level of ketones.  

Diagnoses of Type 1 Diabetes

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The type 1 diabetes usually strikes a patient suddenly. This causes one to lose consciousness or suffer from slurred speech, vomiting, loss of coordination, etc. that calls for medical attention. Thus, leading to diagnoses of type 1 diabetes. Tests that help in diagnoses include:

  • Random blood sugar test
  • Fasting plasma glucose test
  • Glycated (Glycosylated) hemoglobin test that shows an A1C value more than 6.5%

Management of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes treatment or management begins immediately after diagnosis. The patient requires lifelong insulin injections to maintain the blood glucose levels. Insulin is injected into the body with the help of a syringe or an insulin pump. A patient may require insulin dose up to 6 times a day. Apart from the insulin injections, another injectable pramlintide, a hormone is prescribed. This is a hormone that should be taken after meals to avoid increase in levels of blood sugar.

Other treatments offered in the management of type 1 diabetes include maintaining healthy body weight with the help of exercises and a healthy diet. One is advised to eat regular meals and monitor their blood glucose levels regularly.

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

Tye 1 diabetes is a serious condition that affects many organs of the body when left untreated. It can cause:

  • Vision problems like blurred vision or total blindness
  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Nerve damage leading to tingling, numbness and pain
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of sensation in foot, sores and blisters on foot
  • Severe foot damage due to Gangre leading to amputation of toes or an entire foot
  • Frequent gum infections
  • Risk of miscarriage, congenital defects as well as stillbirth during pregnancy

It is very difficult to live with type 1 diabetes. One has to watch what they eat, how much they eat and also watch out for other symptoms that may indicate complications. However, with the proper care management of diabetes becomes a part of life for many. Eat a healthy diet and live an active life. Speak to a diabetologists for more advise on managing diabetes and living a complication free life.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: February 4, 2015