May 24, 2024

Understanding Type 1 Diabetes – Its Causes, Symptoms and Management

It also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack and destroy the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without insulin, the body is unable to metabolize sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates into energy. This causes blood sugar levels, known as blood glucose, to rise.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
The classic symptoms of type 1 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, extreme fatigue, and irritability. These symptoms occur as blood sugar levels rise and the body’s cells become starved of insulin. Symptoms can develop quickly over a short period of time, often in a matter of weeks. It’s important to see a doctor if any of these symptoms are present.

Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown, but scientists believe both genetic and environmental factors play a role in triggering the disease. Those at highest risk include those with a family history of the disease, Caucasians, and those diagnosed during childhood or teenage years. These diabetes cannot be prevented by making lifestyle changes or diet modifications, as it is an autoimmune disorder and not caused by behavioral factors.

Diagnosis and Testing
To diagnose type 1 diabetes, a doctor will check blood glucose levels through a blood or urine test. An A1C test may also be used to determine average blood sugar levels over the past few months. Diagnosis is confirmed if significant hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is present. Unlike type 2 diabetes, insulin injections are required immediately upon diagnosis to control blood sugar and prevent medical complications.

Insulin Treatment and Management
There is no cure for type 1 diabetes, and lifelong insulin replacement therapy is required through multiple daily injections or an insulin pump. Working closely with an endocrinologist, patients learn to balance insulin, carbohydrate intake, exercise, and blood sugar monitoring to keep levels in a target range. An insulin treatment plan should be developed uniquely for each individual. With careful management, people with type 1 diabetes can lead long, healthy lives.

Complications if Untreated
Without treatment or blood sugar control, type 1 diabetes can lead to serious complications that damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Short-term issues include diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening condition where acids called ketones build up in the body. Long-term complications include:

– Eye Disease: Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina.

– Kidney Disease: Diabetic nephropathy affects the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood, potentially resulting in kidney failure. Strict control helps prevent or delay kidney damage.

– Nerve Disease: Diabetic neuropathy involves pain, numbness, and weakness due to nerve damage in the hands, feet, digestive system, and other areas. Loss of feeling makes foot injuries more likely to cause problems.

– Heart Disease and Stroke: Diabetes doubles the risk. Managing blood pressure and cholesterol is important for vascular health and reducing cardiovascular risk.

– Dental Disease: Periodontal (gum) disease is common as high blood sugar gives bacteria an advantage. Regular dental care is recommended.

While type 1 diabetes is a complex condition requiring diligent care, people are able to thrive and live full lives. Support groups provide valuable community, understanding and lifestyle tips. With advancements in medical technology like CGM devices and insulin pumps, blood glucose control is more manageable than ever before. A healthy diet, exercise regularly and stress management also supports overall wellness. With determination and focus on self-care, those with can actively participate in work, hobbies, relationships, travel and all daily activities.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it