What is Type 1 Diabetes? Signs, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
What is type 1 diabetes? This type of diabetes is when your pancrease no longer produces any insulin. Insulin is the hormone that is needed by your cells to convert glucose, or blood sugar, to energy that your cells need to run properly. If you cannot process the glucose, then the glucose builds up in your blood causing high blood sugar.
If insulin is not injected, then the high blood sugar levels can lead to a diabetic coma, and ultimately death. However, despite this frightening outcome, it usually doesn't come to this. More typically, type 1 diabetics learn to control their insulin levels or obtain medical care when necessary.Traditionally, type 1 was most common in children and young adult. However, during the last several decades, type 1 has risen in prevelance not only in younger populations, but in older older adults, as well. The condition is equally prevalent in males and females, but more prevalent in whites than non-whites.
Type 1 accounts for 5-10% of all diabetes cases. Former terms for type 1 include: child onset diabetes, Juvenile diabetes, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).
Although juvenile diabetes is technically listed as a former name by many authorities, it is still commonly used, including as the name of a very dedicated research and philanthropic diabetes foundation, called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Symptoms and Characteristics
Type 1 is characterized as an autoimmune disease. An auto immune disease occurs when the body's immune system attacks another part of the body. In type 1, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (specifically known as the islets of langerhans). As little or no insulin is produced, a type 1 diabetic must take insulin daily.
If you want to learn more about How Does Insulin Transfer Glucose Into Our Cells? take a look at this article.
There is no definitive cause of type 1 diabetes. Various autoimmune, genetic and environmental factors are often cited. Additionally, it is thought that type 1 may be triggered by some viral infections.
The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes typically develop over a very short period (weeks to months). However, certain cellular destruction can be occurring for years.
The typical symptoms include: increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue.
Diagnosis and Complications
Diabetes Diagnosis and insulin treatment should occur quickly after symptoms manifest themselves. As mentioned above, if left untreated, then diabetic coma, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis, can occur.
Complications are the same as for type 2. If not properly managed, the disease can lead to health complications including, stroke and heart disease, impotence, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage.
Type 1 treatments include healthy diet, physical exercise and taking insulin. Proper monitoring of blood glucose levels is also part of maintaining proper health.
While there is no cure, ongoing research, particularly Stem Cell Research and diabetes is progressing well. If you have a moment, try reading the article - Who Discovered Diabetes? It is a fascinating look back in time to the origins of the condition and the evolution of treatment methods.. If you are curious about how many other people are affected by type 1 diabetes, we break down the latest Diabetes Statistics here.
Other Related Conditions
Several conditions are somewhat related to diabetes and go by similar names. One condition called Brittle Diabetes is very rare but concerns diabetics who have difficulty managing their condition.
Similarly, Diabetes Insipidus shares the same name, but is a very different type of condition. In this article, I discuss the similarities, differences and treatment.
By Erich Schultz - Last Reviewed February 2013.
National Institute of Health Publication No. 09-3873, Diabetes Overview, Updated April 2012, (accessed February 2013).
National Institute of Health Publication No. 11-3892, National Diabetes Statistics 2011, Updated December 2011 (accessed February 2013).
Center for Disease Control, cdc.gov, Diabetes Frequently Asked Questions (accessed December 2008).