TYPE 1 DIABETES
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus — IDDM — or juvenile diabetes) is the most common type found in children and young adults. This condition occurs when the cells in the pancreas don't make enough insulin. Without insulin the sugar is not able to move into the cells. Sugar stays in the blood leading to high blood sugars.
It is now believed that diabetes develops gradually, over many months or even years. More and more islet cells are destroyed, until the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is made.
Who gets type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, although the disease can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5-10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes:
- Self-allergy (autoimmunity) The immune system protects us from disease. But in the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune system turns against the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells). This is seen in the blood by testing for diabetes antibodies. The most common test for an antibody is the GAD65. Measuring this antibody, early in the disease, can help the medical team determine if a person has type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Inherited (or genetic) factors People with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have inherited certain cell types (called HLA types). Over half of the people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes also have a close relative with the disease.
- Environmental (virus or chemical) A virus or chemical may also be a factor in type 1 diabetes, injuring the cells that make insulin
Signs of type 1 diabetes:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Nausea, vomiting, stomach ache
Diagnosis of diabetes:
- Fasting blood sugar: 126mg/dL or greater
- Random blood sugar: 200mg/dL or greater with symptoms (increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss)
- Blood sugars after a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test: 200mg/dL or greater
- Each of these tests should be confirmed on another day unless the symptoms of high blood sugar are present.
Treatment for type 1 diabetes
The primary treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin, since your body doesn't make enough insulin. The goal of diabetes management is to keep your blood sugars as close to normal as possible. This is the best way to prevent the complications of diabetes. The components of diabetes care include:
- Insulin therapy
- Glucose monitoring
- Meal planning
- Physical activity
People with type 1 diabetes will need insulin for the rest of their lives. Often, there is a “honeymoon” period that occurs a short time, after the diagnosis of diabetes. Once the person starts insulin injections, sugar production is turned off in the liver and a fair bit of insulin is still being made in the islet cells in the pancreas. The need for insulin decreases, and the blood sugars return to almost normal levels. People sometimes think they don't really have diabetes, but that is not the case. This period may last a few weeks to a few years. After the “honeymoon” period, the body will need more insulin.
How type 1 diabetes affects your life
You can live a long, healthy life if you keep your diabetes in good control. Diabetes care needs to be an important part of your life, so you can do everything else you want to do in your life. Work with your health-care team to develop a self-care plan that works for you.
Last revised July 2009, Adult Diabetes Education Program