Type 1 Diabetes

An Introduction To Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes among all types of diabetes is the most chronic and dreaded form. It occurs when the pancreas's beta cells produce too little insulin to regulate blood sugar levels appropriately. Type 1 diabetes, often called juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It often strikes children and young adults, who must rely on insulin injections or an insulin pump for survival.

This type of diabetes tends to run in families, and whites have a higher incidence of having this disease than other racial groups. High levels of glucose, due to little regulation by insulin results in excessive urination and thirst. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it usually starts in people younger than 30. It accounts for 3 % of all new cases of diabetes each year. Major symptoms are:

1) Increased thirst
2) Increased urination
3) Weight loss despite increased appetite
4) Nausea
5) Vomiting
6) Abdominal pain
7) Fatigue
8) Absence of menstruation

The disease is diagnosed with the help of urine analysis, fasting and random blood glucose, insulin test and c-peptide test.

Immediate goals of treatment are to treat diabetic ketoacidosis (also called DKA) and high blood glucose levels. The long-term goals of treatment are to prolong life, reduce symptoms, and prevent diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney failure, and amputation of limbs. People with type I diabetes do not have the ability to make their own insulin, therefore they must take insulin every day. Meal planning for type 1 diabetes requires consistency to allow food and insulin to work together to regulate blood glucose levels.

Diabetes alters the bodies immune system and decreases the body's ability to fight infection. Low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, can occur in diabetics when they use too much insulin, exercise too much, do not eat enough food. In absence of glucose, fats are broken down to get energy and it results in formation of an acid called ketones that is poisonous for the body.

People with type 1 diabetes are also at higher risk of developing blockages in the major arteries of the legs than the non-diabetics. Kidney abnormalities may also be noted early in the disease. Poorly controlled diabetes may accelerate the development of kidney failure.

People with diabetes may develop temporary or permanent damage to nerve tissue. Diabetic neuropathy is more likely to develop if blood glucose is poorly controlled. People with diabetes are more likely than non diabetics to develop infections.

Regular measurement and evaluation of glycosylated hemoglobin, cholestrol and tri glyceride is required for patients.

Diabetes education is an important part of the treatment. Diabetes education involves learning how to live with your disease. Basic "survival skills" include:

a) How to recognize and treat low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
b) How to recognize and treat high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
c) How to go about diabetes meal planning.
d) How to administer insulin.
e) How to monitor blood glucose and urine ketones.

Although life seems to be at stake once a person suffers from this disease, regular insulin intake and proper check up of blood sugar level along with diet control could minimize the risk.