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Type 1 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Overview 

Type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes is a chronic condition wherein the pancreas secretes little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone required to allow glucose to process in the cells to produce energy. 

Several factors may lead to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. This condition generally occurs during childhood or the age of adolescence. However, in rare circumstances, it may develop in adults.

Read ahead to know more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment for type 1 diabetes.

What is Type 1 Diabetes? 

Type 1 diabetes generally occurs in adolescence. It is a chronic disease wherein the pancreas releases little or no insulin. Thus, the body is unable to secrete glucose.  

Type 1 diabetes does not have a cure, despite the collective measure of research. The primary treatment for type 1 diabetes involves monitoring and managing blood sugar levels through insulin and making significant lifestyle and diet changes. It may help in limiting further complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes 

Type 1 diabetes has the following signs and symptoms, which appear depending upon the severity of the condition. 

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes 

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still unclear. Generally, the body’s immune system fundamentally combats viruses and harmful bacteria mistakes insulin for viruses. It thereby destroys the insulin-secreting cells present in the pancreas. 

Apart from this, exposure to bacteria and other environmental components and genetics may be causes of type 1 diabetes.

When Should You See a Doctor for Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes requires immediate attention. If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, you must seek professional help. 

Preventive Measures for Type 1 Diabetes

Research suggests that there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. However, active research and development are underway to determine the prevention of this condition.

It gets recommended that you ask your doctor if you are eligible for clinical trials. However, make sure of the risks and benefits of all the treatments offered by these trials. 

Risk Factors Associated with Type 1 Diabetes

Given below are some of the commonly known risk factors linked with type 1 diabetes. 

  • Age: While type 1 diabetes can occur in individuals of any age group, it frequently gets observed in two prime peaks. The first peak of type 1 diabetes occurs in children between the ages of 4 and 7. The second peak occurs in children between the ages of 10 and 14. 
  • Genetics: The presence of specific genes poses a greater risk of falling prey to type 1 diabetes. 
  • Family history: If your family has a history of type 1 diabetes, there’s a high possibility of developing it. 
  • Geography: Additionally, people who may frequently travel farther from the equator may be at a greater risk of developing this condition. 

Treatment Options for Type 1 Diabetes

There are quite a few ways to treat type 1 diabetes. These include the following.

Intake of insulin

The objective of treating type 1 diabetes is to maintain your blood sugar level close to normal to avoid further complications. Anyone with type 1 diabetes requires long-term insulin therapy. The following types of insulin get given

  • Short-acting insulin (regular)
  • Long-acting insulin 
  • Rapid-acting insulin
  • Immediate-acting insulin (NPH) 

Insulin should not get consumed orally to decrease blood sugar because the stomach enzymes break it down. Thus, your doctor may give you insulin through injections or an insulin pump. Apart from this, your doctor may recommend additional medications such as high blood pressure medications, cholesterol-lowering medications, and aspirin.

Maintaining A Healthy Diet

While a diabetes diet doesn’t exist, you must limit your diet to low-fat, low-calorie, and nutritious foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Your dietitian may also ask you to decrease your refined carbohydrate and meat intake. The goal is to eat clean and healthy meals.

Consistent Monitoring of Blood Sugar Level

Based on the type of treatment or insulin therapy you need, you must monitor your blood sugar level about four times a day. Blood sugar levels tend to alter even if you consistently take insulin and have a healthy diet. Monitoring your blood sugar levels will help you take the necessary measures to maintain them as close to normal as possible. You can monitor your blood level through continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), specifically to prevent hypoglycemia

Counting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins 

Ensure to eat low-calorie and low-fat foods. A healthy diet is essential to lowering your susceptibility to type 1 diabetes or limiting further complications. Counting the carbohydrate, fat, and protein content in your meals is an excellent way to maintain your blood sugar levels. 

Regularly exercising and staying fit-

Maintaining frequent physical activity is vital to limit further complications and lower the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Regular aerobic exercise controls and reduces blood sugar levels. Monitor your blood sugar levels frequently when you start a new activity to determine how the activity impacts them. 

Conclusion

Even after following the necessary measures to prevent developing type 1 diabetes, you can fall prey to the condition. Type 1 diabetes can bring about short-term complications such as hypoglycemia. 

Some of the later symptoms and signs of low blood sugar include lethargy, convulsions, behavior changes, poor coordination, and confusion. 

Thus, you need to seek professional help if you are experiencing any of the abovementioned symptoms. Immediate treatment can help you manage your blood sugar levels and limit further complications. 

After contracting this condition, you may require close medical follow-ups to ensure that your blood sugar levels come close to normal. Your doctor may recommend that you follow up with a certified diabetes educator, dentist, pharmacist, dietician, mental health professional, ophthalmologist, and podiatrist. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the role of insulin in our body?

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas behind the stomach. Once an extensive amount of islet cells gets killed, you will secrete little or no insulin altogether. The pancreas produces insulin to enter the bloodstream. 

Insulin plays a crucial role in circulating and allowing the sugar to pass through the cells. Insulin further limits the sugar content in your bloodstream. With the drop in your blood sugar level, there is a drop in insulin secretion from the pancreas. 

How is sugar linked to type 1 diabetes? 

Glucose or sugar is the prime energy source that your body’s cells need for building muscles and other tissues. Glucose gets secreted by two fundamental sources, namely, the liver and food. The bloodstream absorbs the sugar, allowing it to enter the cells through insulin. 

The liver further stores glucose in the form of glycogen. When the sugar level in your body is low due to not eating for a significant amount of time, the liver tends to break down glycogen to glucose for maintaining your sugar level. While suffering from type 1 diabetes, you may lack the required insulin to let the glucose pass through the cells. Due to this, sugar tends to build up in your bloodstream.

What are some of the complications of type 1 diabetes? 

Some of the common complications of type 1 diabetes that you need to watch out for include nerve damage, heart and blood vessel conditions, vision deterioration, kidney damage, pregnancy complications, foot damage, and skin and mouth conditions.

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