Diabetes Basics

Type 1 Diabetes

Earlier, Type 1 diabetes was called juvenile diabetes. It is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Though Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it usually starts in young adults, children and teenagers. That is why it was called 'juvenile'. Diabetes is a life-long disease. Once diagnosed, it can not be cured completely, but can be kept under control.

But, why does a person suffer from this diabetes? Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin to regulate blood sugar levels appropriately. Due to the loss of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. It enables our body to convert the food that we eat into energy which is necessary.

Since, individuals with Type 1 diabetes produce no insulin at all, the presence of glucose increases in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. The body is not able to use this glucose for energy despite its high levels, leading to increased hunger. The insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas are completely destroyed within 5 to 10 years after diagnosis and no more insulin is further produced.

Symptoms are usually severe and occur quickly. They are as follows:

1) Increased thirst
2) Increased urination
3) Weight loss despite increased appetite
4) Nausea and vomiting
5) Abdominal pain
6) Fatigue

The immediate goal of the treatment of Type 1 diabetes is to treat diabetic ketoacidosis and high blood glucose levels. Because of the sudden onset and severity of symptoms in type 1 diabetes, treatment for newly diagnosed people may involve hospitalization. Gradually, treatments aim towards prolonging life, lessen symptoms, and prevent diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney failure, and amputation of limbs.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for 3 % of all new cases of diabetes each year. With every 7,000 children per year, there is a new case. New cases are less common among adults older than 20 years. This type comprises of almost 10 % of total cases in North America and Europe.