What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus type 1 (also known as type 1 diabetes, or T1D; formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes) is a metabolic disease. It occurs when the immune system destroys beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells produce a hormone called insulin. This hormone is needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells in order to produce energy. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. Type 1 is more common among white people than in African Americans. Women and men are affected equally. Although the disease typically starts in individuals under the age of 20, it can occur at any stage of life.
What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?
The cause of type 1 diabetes is currently unknown. Genetics certainly play a role as it is a disease associated with more than 50 genes. Environmental factors and viruses may result in expression of the disease. The viral theory claims that the disease may be caused by an autoimmune response to virus-infected cells. The immune system may also attack beta cells in the pancreas during this process. There are also certain drugs and chemicals that can cause a loss in insulin production after ingestion.
What Are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?
Common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, increased hunger, fatigue, and weight loss. Often diabetic patients are diagnosed when they present signs of a complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. This results when the body responds to an insulin shortage by burning fat. Signs of diabetic ketoacidosis include dry skin, rapid deep breathing, drowsiness, abdominal pain, and vomiting. If left untreated it can lead to death.
How Can Type 1 Diabetes Be Managed?
Following a treatment plan for type 1 diabetes is an arduous task, but is essential to prevent serious complications. It is important to maintain a strict medication regimen, in addition to commiting to a healthy diet and an exercise routine. However, workouts and food intake have to be balanced with insulin dosages. It is important to measure blood sugar levels to determine the affects of physical activity and certain food groups. Advice on living with type 1 diabetes should be sought from physicians, diabetes educators, and registered dietitians.