Skip to content

Type 1 Diabetes: Everything You Need to Know

type 1 diabetes
Even though type-1 diabetes is a serious medical problem, do not get too upset if you – your child or one of your acquaintances developed this health problem. Because, people with type-1 diabetes can live a happy, healthy and long life with the aid of a well-planned exercise, diet, medical treatment and the right education about this health issue.

To begin with, it is important to note that type-1 diabetes befalls individuals ( mostly) in their childhood and puberty. Therefore, previously this type of diabetes was called juvenile diabetes. In general, type 1 diabetes occurs until 30 years of age. But it doesn’t mean that people older than 30 never develop this disease.

The aim of this article is to present every info you need to know about type-1 diabetes including diagnosis, causes, symptoms and treatment. 
 
 

Type-1 Diabetes


The human body meets its energy need through the foods we consume. The essential nutrients we take through dietary sources are carbohydratesproteins and fats. These nutritional elements are broken down in the body to get absorbed by the body.

One of these elements broken down is glucose which is a simple sugar. All the organs including the brain in the human body need glucose for energy. However, the human body can’t use glucose as it is.

In order for glucose to be used in the body, hormones that are produced in the pancreas gland are needed. The name of this hormone is insulin. If the body can’t produce insulin for certain reasons, the human body can’t use glucose taken through the foods.

In type-1 diabetes, the body’s own immune system destroys the beta cells whose task is to produce insulin hormones in the pancreas, since the immune system considers these beta cells as an enemy of the body. Therefore, type-1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune condition.

In the process of time, these beta cells lose their function as a result of the immune system’s constant attacks. As a consequence, the pancreas becomes unable to produce a sufficient amount of insulin. And, in the absence of insulin, blood sugar accumulates in the bloodstream, thus causing high blood sugar.

Another function of insulin is to help your body store glucose in the liver, muscles and fat cells so that the body uses it whenever necessary, for instance, between meals or during exercise.

 

What Causes Type – 1 Diabetes


As mentioned in the above section, type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system — which normally protects the body against viruses, microbes and bacteria — attacks beta cells in pancreas gland as if they are the enemies of the body like viruses.

As a result of this attack, these insulin-producing cells (beta cells) are destroyed in the long run. Therefore, the pancreas starts producing none or very little insulin.

In the absence of insulin hormones, glucose can’t be converted to energy and also accumulates in the bloodstream, thereby causing high blood sugar.

Therefore, type 1 diabetes is categorised as an autoimmune disease that means the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. Why the immune system attacks the body’s own cells is not known. Even experts and doctors can’t explain the exact causes of this weird attack.

It is thought that virusesvaccinationmedication, and physical or psychic stress may perplex the immune system, causing it to attack its own cells ( beta cells) as if these cells are trespassers.

When the destruction in the beta cells exceeds 80 per cent the first symptoms of type-1 diabetes occur.

 

Risk factors

• The first risk factor is age. Even though type 1 diabetes may occur at any age, children and young individuals tend to develop type 1 diabetes more than adults older than 30.

° Although it is not certain yet — having certain genes is a risk factor for developing type -1 diabetes according to scientists.

• Strangely, the risk of developing type-1 diabetes is higher for a person who lives away from the equator than those who live near the equator. Related to this, the prevalence of type-1 is higher in northern countries. Respectively, Finland and Sweden have the highest numbers of type-1 diabetes.

• And of course family history! Having first degree relatives with type-1 diabetes is considered a risk factor for this disease.

 

Symptoms


Type 1 diabetes is more aggressive than type-2 in terms of showing symptoms. According to research; there are many people in society who do not know they have type-2 diabetes. When type-1 start, it shows strong symptoms.

Sometime after the pancreas stops producing insulin hormones that regulate blood sugar levels, the symptoms start.

The following are the main symptoms of diabetes type-1.

 

• Extreme thirst

° Peeing more frequently

• Extreme Hunger

° Vision Problems

• Extreme fatigue

° Feeling Depressed

• Weight Loss without trying

° Slow healing of wounds

• Dry skin

° Nausea – vomiting ( Not always )

 

Diagnosis


The above-given symptoms are strong indications of type-1 diabetes. Nevertheless, doctors require laboratory tests to see accurate results.

The followings are the main tests to diagnose type-1 diabetes. Furthermore, your doctor may require additional tests apart from the below-given ones, if necessary.

– Random blood sugar test

– Glycated haemoglobin test.

– Fasting blood sugar test.

 

Treatment


Unfortunately, currently, there is no cure for any type of diabetes. Therefore, patients have to get treatment every day. During the treatment, doctors aim to keep the patients’ blood sugar levels as normal as possible to prevent complications.

The constant rule in the treatment of type 1 diabetes is insulin injection. In this type of diabetes, receiving insulin is an indispensable and life-saving factor. Other cornerstones of treatment are healthy eatingregular exerciseeducation and regular monitoring.

Following treatment methods, determined by the physician/doctor, keep patients as healthy as possible.

1- Insulin 


Type 1 diabetes patients have to take insulin every day since their body ( pancreas ) doesn’t produce insulin hormones. In general, patients take insulin through an injection which is one is the most common ways to take daily insulin.

Alternatively, some patients use an insulin pump instead of using a needle to meet their daily insulin needs.

The device (Insulin pump ) delivers insulin as needed

The device works the way the pancreas works. The insulin pump, as you see in the picture, is no bigger than a standard cell phone.

The device is programmed to inject a small amount of insulin into the body according to the body’s insulin need.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this method. For instance, the insulin pump device is suggested to be better in terms of managing blood sugar levels than insulin injecting through a needle.

 

2- Blood Sugar Monitoring


Diabetic patients need to measure their blood sugar level throughout the day because the required insulin level in the body show alteration throughout the day. If the blood sugar level is high or low, the patient or the medical staff act accordingly.

There are many factors that may affect the blood sugar level. Stress, alcohol, hormonal changes, foods, and exercise to name but a few.

Additionally, measuring blood sugar at regular intervals ( measurement frequency is determined by the doctor ) gives information as to whether or not the blood sugar is going well or whether the insulin dose is needed to change.

Once again, the number of times the blood sugar level is measured should be determined by your doctor/dietitian. In general, people with type 1 diabetes measure their blood glucose level four times a day — before breakfast, lunch, dinner and the night meal- with a glucometer.

In short, careful monitoring of blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to manage blood sugar levels.

 

3- Eating Healthy


As said several times, there is no cure for diabetes and also it isn’t preventable. Hence, if this health condition develops, the person should shape his/her life by managing this health problem.

In this sense, diet plays an important role in keeping the blood sugar level in an acceptable range. For diabetic patients; not only what they eat, but also when they eat matters. For this reason, working with a registered dietitian carries significance.

A registered dietitian designs a well-balanced, shortly, the most suitable diet for patients. Generally, fewer animal products and refined carbohydrates will consist in the diet.

 

– Taking sufficient carbohydrates

– A varied diet

– Increasing the amount of pulp taken with foods

– Consuming fruits / vegetables

 

4- Exercise


Exercise is another important way to regulate blood sugar levels. In the treatment of diabetes, the most suitable exercise type and the program should be applied for the patient. The exercise intensity or frequency, once again, should be determined by the doctor.

On the first days of the exercise program, the time spent while exercising should not be too long. 5 to 10 minutes would be sufficient at first. Thereafter, the duration of the exercise increases gradually.

Exercising regularly ( daily ) is another important point. Whilst doing exercise, patients should wear cotton socks to keep the feet dry, thus enhancing blood circulation.

Additionally, insulin should not be applied to the areas where the muscles working actively during exercise. And, lastly, patients should not start exercising on an empty stomach.