Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes is a blood sugar-related disease that results in either low or high blood sugar levels. A hormone in our body ‘Insulin’ manages our blood sugar levels. When this hormone is not produced in sufficient quantities and results in fluctuations in blood sugar levels since childhood, it is called diabetes 1 Mellitus. The cause is unknown for type 1 diabetes, however, it is believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are commonly responsible.
This article covers all the necessary information regarding type 1 diabetes such as its symptoms, diagnosis, risk factors, causes, treatment and prevention.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes also known as juvenile (childhood) diabetes or diabetes mellitus type 1 is an autoimmune disease where insulin releases either in a very low quantity or does not release at all from its origin. Insulin is a hormone that is released from the pancreas and helps in managing blood sugar levels in the bloodstream. The body’s cells use insulin to generate energy and when insulin doesn’t produce in enough amount the sugar doesn’t utilize by the body leading to high blood sugar levels in the blood.
As a treatment, insulin is given externally by the subcutaneous route. According to the studies, type 1 diabetes covers only 5-10% of the overall diabetes cases.
Due to the significant destruction of islet cells, the body produces little insulin or no insulin at all. The pancreas secretes insulin to the bloodstream and then insulin circulates in the body allowing the cells to absorb sugar. Thus insulin helps in regulating blood sugar.
Glucose or sugar is the main source of energy which the muscle cells and other tissues need. Glucose comes from the food and the liver. This glucose is absorbed by the body cells with the help of insulin. The liver also stores glucose as glycogen. If someone hasn’t eaten anything, the liver breaks down the stored glycogen into glucose and releases it into teh bloodstream to balance your sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes occurs in children and adults. The first and main sign is high blood sugar. Other signs include:-
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Skin infections
- Delay in wound healing
The destruction of Beta cells in the pancreas and a constant insulin deficiency are the main causes of diabetes type 1. During the deficiency of insulin, the body doesn’t respond to the high sugar levels leading to persistent hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels.
Two main factors contribute to diabetes:
The family of a diabetic (with type 1 diabetes) person is at a high chance of developing the disease. Generally, type 1 diabetes affects only 1 in 250. Children of diabetic parents have a 1-9% chance of getting the disease.
There are many environmental factors involved in triggering Beta cells autoimmunity. Children whose mother is obese or older than 35 have high chances to develop type 1 diabetes. Also, some early viral infections could contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes.
There are main four risk factors for type 1 diabetes:-
- Family history:- a person with diabetic parents or siblings has a high chance of developing the disease
- Genetics: some genes contribute to acquiring type 1 diabetes
- Age:- though, diabetes can occur irrespective of age there are two peaks
- Geography:- the geographical areas away from the equator are highly vulnerable to diabetes mellitus type 1
Diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test and detected by a high blood sugar level. According to the world health organization, diabetes occurs when the blood sugar level rises above 126 mg/dl after fasting for at least 8 hours.
Cardiovascular disease:- diabetes increases the chances of various heart problems such as coronary artery disease, chest pain, heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
Diabetic retinopathy:- diabetes can potentially damage eye nerves and may cause blindness. The disease affects the blood vessels of the retina and also increases the risk of other diseases like cataracts and glaucoma.
Neuropathy:- high blood sugar levels can damage the blood capillaries that nourish the nerves, particularly leg nerves and cause numbness, tingling, burning and pain that initiates with the tips of toes and fingers. A prolonged high blood sugar level may lose sensations in the affected limb.
Kidney damage/ nephropathy:- the millions of tiny delicate blood vessel clusters in your kidney that helps in filtering waste from your blood can be damaged by diabetes. A damaged filtering system eventually may cause kidney failure and end-stage kidney disease.
Infections:- diabetes makes you vulnerable to various skin and mouth infections such as bacterial and fungal infections.
The first step towards treatment is to check the blood sugar levels regularly and routinely. There is a range in which you need to manage your blood sugar levels with the help of diet and exercise.
The insulin hormone is the key to managing blood sugar levels in diabetes type 1. The insulin is given according to the needs of the patient.
Three things are important while giving insulin onset, peak time and duration.
Onset:- it’s the time taken by insulin to reach the bloodstream and lower your blood sugar levels.
Peak time:- it’s the time when insulin is most effective in lowering blood sugar levels.
Duration:- it’s the time insulin works after onset.
Insulin is divided into the following categories:-
- Rapid-acting:- starts work rapidly within 15 minutes and peaks about 1 hour after taking and continues to work for 2-4 hours.
- Short-acting:- it starts acting after 30 minutes and reaches its peak in 2-3 hours and continues working for 3-6 hours.
- Intermediate-acting:- don’t act for at least 2-4 hours after taking and peaks in between 4-12 hours and continues to work for 12-18 hours.
- Long-acting:- it takes working after several hours and lasts about 24 hours.
Insulin comes in a vial and is taken with a syringe and the shot is given subcutaneously. Patients take shots by themselves. Insulin pumps are also available, which serves as a painless and convenient method to take insulin. The patient needs to wear it and the insulin transfers through a small tube. It has been well proven that use of an insulin pump prevents and/or delays the complications associated with Diabetes.
Exercise is an evergreen treatment method for various diseases. In diabetes also, exercise has a very important role. Simple jogging or running is beneficial in managing blood sugar levels. Also, diet modifications have an important role in the treatment of diabetes. Thus, by managing the food we eat and including physical activities diabetes can be managed.
Every diabetic patient should be aware of the conditions that may happen in diabetes and should know all the precautions that need to be taken in this disease. Checking blood sugar levels and having a glucometer at home is compulsory for blood sugar management. The patient will recognize how food affects their sugar levels.
In Diabetes Type 1 insulin is not produced in appropriate amounts or its production is inhibited. It could happen due to genetic, environmental, geographical and age-related factors. The symptoms of diabetes type 1 are increased thirst, hunger and urge to urinate frequently. In prolonged diabetes, vision, kidney functions and nerve functions can also be affected. Diabetes type 1 includes insulin doses, certain anti-diabetic medications and lifestyle modifications such as exercise, eating healthy, checking blood sugar regularly. Insulin pumps are currently the gold standard for optimal management of blood sugars in such patients