What is meant by type 1 diabetes?
- This is a metabolic, autoimmune, chronic disease in which a person has high blood glucose. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas (a small gland behind the stomach) does not produce any insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels.
What are the causes of type 1 diabetes?
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. When eating, the digestive system breaks down food and passes its nutrients into the bloodstream. The pancreas usually produces insulin, which transfers any glucose out of the blood and into the cells, where it is converted into energy. However, with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin. This means that glucose cannot be moved out of the bloodstream and into the cells.
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. The immune system (the body's natural defence against infection and illness) mistakes the cells in the pancreas as harmful and attacks them, destroying them completely or damaging them enough to stop them producing insulin. It is not known exactly what triggers the immune system to do this, but some researchers have suggested that it may be due to a viral infection.
- Type 1 diabetes is usually inherited (runs in families), so the autoimmune reaction may also be genetic.
What are the major symptoms of type 1 diabetes?
Major symptoms of diabetes that are common in type 1 and type 2 are:
- Feeling very thirsty (polydipsia)
- Urinating frequently, particularly at night (polyuria)
- Feeling very tired
- Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can develop quickly, over weeks or even days. Other symptoms include:
- Itchiness around the vagina or penis, or regular bouts of thrush (a yeast infection)
- Blurred vision that is caused by the lens of the eye changing shape
- Skin infections
Treatment and management of type 1 diabetes:
- Insulin treatment is needed to keep glucose levels normal. Insulin comes in several different preparations, each of which works slightly differently. For example, some last up to a whole day (long-acting), some last up to eight hours (short-acting) and some work quickly but do not last very long (rapid-acting). Treatment may include a combination of these different insulin preparations.
- Insulin injections: in most cases of type 1 diabetes, a patient will need to have insulin injections. Insulin must be injected because if it were taken as a tablet, it would be broken down into the stomach, just like food and would be unable to enter the bloodstream. Insulin injections are either given with a syringe or an injection pen, which is also known as an insulin pen or auto-injector. Most people need two-to-four injections a day. A GP or diabetes nurse may also teach a close friend or relatives how to inject the insulin properly.
- Insulin pump therapy: insulin pump therapy is an alternative to injecting insulin. The…