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Everything You Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes



Diabetes mellitus can manifest in people of all age groups. It is caused when the pancreas fails to produce a sufficient amount of insulin. Without insulin, the cells cannot take up the glucose from the bloodstream. This leads to high sugar levels in the blood.

When you eat, the majority of the food disintegrates and converts to glucose (sugar), which further mixes with your blood. The pancreas receives signals from rising blood sugar levels and releases insulin as a result.

But people with diabetes cannot make insulin on their own; thus, there is an increasing amount of glucose in their blood, which further leads to serious health-related problems. Diabetes is mainly of four types: type 1 (autoimmune and developed by genetic condition), type 2 (lifestyle-related), gestational diabetes (developed during pregnancy) and prediabetic (blood sugar level above the normal but below type 2 diabetes). Here we discuss type 1 diabetes and its symptoms.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes. It is a chronic health condition that, at present, cannot be cured. In this condition, the pancreas does not make insulin or makes very little for the body's requirements. 

It is estimated that approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is most prevalent in children, teens and young adults. If you are suffering from type 1 diabetes, you cannot survive without insulin, thus you need insulin every day. 

What are The Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can arise suddenly. It can be shown in children, teenagers or young adults quickly within weeks or months. Listed below are some of the type 1 diabetes symptoms: 

  • Feeling very thirsty than usual (Polydipsia)
  • Losing weight without any exercise or dieting
  • Having a blurred vision
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Urinating a lot throughout the day, especially during the night (Polyuria)
  • Delayed healing of cuts and wounds
  • Bed-wetting in children during the night
  • Bad and fruity-smelling breath
  • Having fungal infections in the skin, vagina or urinary tract
  • Feeling a burning sensation under the feet
  • Feeling very hungry all time even after eating
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling irritated
  • Stomach upset, pain in the stomach
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling uncomfortable when breathing
  • Tingling in fingers and fingertips
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness (but it is rare)
  • Shaking and confusion

What are The Causes of Type 1 Diabetes?

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known. It is an autoimmune, metabolic disease, which means the patient's body will attack its own pancreas cells (beta cells) that produce insulin. Researchers claim that type 1 diabetes can be caused due to the following:

  1. Genetics- According to research, genes play a pivotal role in developing type 1 diabetes. If parents are suffering from type 1 diabetes, there is a high risk of having type 1 diabetes in their child. Study shows if you are a father with type 1 diabetes, then your child has a risk of diabetes 1 in 17. If you are a mother with type 1 diabetes and give birth to your baby before 25 years of your age, then your child will have a risk of diabetes 1 in 25 and if you give birth to your baby after 25 years of your age, then the risk will be 1 in 100. If both of the parents have type 1 diabetes, their child will have a risk between 1 in 4 and 1 in 10. 
  2. Environmental factors- According to the study, the environment is another cause of type 1 diabetes. Data show that type 1 diabetes is related to cold weather. People who are living in cold climatic zones are more prone to type 1 diabetes rather than people who are living in hot climatic zones.  
  3. Exposure to the virus- Usually, our body’s own immune system is able to fight harmful viruses and bacteria. But the harmful viruses destroy the insulin-producing cells (islets of Langerhans) of the pancreas and attack the immune system of our body. 
  4. Early diet- Early diet is one of the main causes of type 1 diabetes. For e.g., if you were only breastfed in your infant age and ate solid food later, you have less risk of type 1 diabetes. 

What are The Effects of Type 1 Diabetes?

People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin, which results in high blood sugar levels in their bloodstream. Insulin is a proteinaceous hormone that is released from the beta cells of the pancreas. It plays a key role in lowering blood glucose levels, which helps to flow body glucose into the body cells. So, if you are having type 1 diabetes, then you might be facing some health-related problems, such as:

  • Dehydration- When extra glucose is mixed in your bloodstream, you urinate a lot. As you feel more thirsty, you drink more water, and a large amount of water goes out through your urine. This causes dehydration.  
  • Weight loss- Dehydration and more urination exhaust your calories. This is the main cause of weight loss in type 1 diabetes. 
  • Body damage- Damage to your nerves, small blood vessels and tissues is brought on by blood glucose levels that are at an all-time high. Prolonged diabetes can also affect the vital organs in your body such as the heart and kidney, and eventually result in their failure. Additionally, diabetes can cause heart attacks by hardening the arteries in the heart.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)- If your body does not have enough glucose for energy, then body fat and muscles will break down. Without sufficient insulin, the body begins to break down the fat bodies into acetone, acetic acid and β-hydroxybutyrate, collectively called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies remain in the bloodstream and eventually develop a serious complication called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Since diabetes is a lifestyle disease, controlling blood sugar levels is frequently extremely challenging for patients. But in recent years, a lot of people have adopted a healthy lifestyle with the appropriate tools and complete awareness of the illness, gradually altering their blood sugar levels in the process.

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