Type 1 Diabetes
Often referred to as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes is a form of diabetes mellitus that is most common in children but can be diagnosed at any age.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that permanently destroys beta cells in the pancreas, meaning that the body can no longer produce insulin.
People with type 1 diabetes therefore require regular insulin delivery to manage their diabetes.
Type 1 causes
The causes of type 1 diabetes are different than those for type 2 diabetes, though the exact mechanisms for development of both diseases are unknown.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is commonly thought to be caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger, which causes the immune system to target and kill off its own insulin producing cells.
What triggers the immune system to behave this way is not yet well understood.
Theories include the possibility that a virus may stimulate the auto-immune response.
As more insulin producing cells in the pancreas are killed off, the body can no longer control its blood glucose levels and the symptoms of diabetes begin to appear.
Type 1 diabetes symptoms
Type 1 diabetes symptoms should be acted upon immediately, as without treatment this type of diabetes can be deadly.
- Above average thirst
- Feeling tired
- Needing to pee regularly
- Losing weight
- Skin infections
- Genital itchiness
Sometimes, type 1 diabetics may be mis-diagnosed as being type 2, particularly if the condition develops later in life.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to kill off its own insulin producing cells. Unlike type 2 diabetes, there exists no link between body size and type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes usually starts in childhood but can start in adulthood too. Type 1 diabetes can come quickly and symptoms can get stronger by the day. The earlier it’s diagnosed the better. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are a reaction to the high amount of sugar in the blood.
The body will try to flush out excess sugar through urine which means you will be going to the wee a lot; especially at night, drinking much more than normal, you may also notice itching down below. Less insulin means the sugar in your blood can’t fuel your body cells so you’ll feel tired and lethargic, and may experience rapid weight loss.
If diabetes is left to develop, you may notice you get either blurred vision or start vomiting. If you notice these symptoms act quickly and arrange to see a doctor immediately.
If you have some of the symptoms, arrange to see a doctor who will take a finger prick blood glucose test or possibly a urine test. The doctor may be able to diagnose you there and then.
Type 1 diabetes is treated by taking insulin You will start by taking injections and can either continue taking injections or may move onto being treated by an insulin pump.
You will need to regularly test your blood, with finger prick tests. Injections and blood tests do get easier over time. You will also need to be aware of what you’re eating, particularly how much carbohydrate you’re having.
We don’t know. Research hasn’t been able to give a clear answer to this yet. What we do know is that genetics plays a part and there seems to be a link with vitamin D, although the link is not currently well understood.
A diagnosis of diabetes is not all doom and gloom. With good control you can lead a long and happy life. People with type 1 diabetes have been known to live into their nineties.
One such person is Bob Krause who has now been living with type 1 diabetes for over 85 years.
Treatment for type 1 diabetes
Lack of insulin production by the pancreas makes type 1 diabetes particularly difficult to control.
Treatment requires a strict regimen that typically includes a carefully calculated diet, planned physical activity, home blood glucose testing several times a day, and multiple daily insulin injections.
Although diet and exercise have a role to play in type 1 diabetes management, they cannot reverse the disease or eliminate the need for insulin.
There is also a sub-type of type 1 diabetes known as brittle diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes and complications
Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to complications including:
Whilst the list of complications is a scary prospect, the chances of developing these can be significantly reduced by maintaining good control of your blood glucose levels and ensuring you attend all your diabetic complication screening appointments.
Type 1 diabetes facts
Type 1 diabetes can be managed, did you know:
- Famous people with type 1 diabetes include young pop-rock sensation Nick Jonas, actress Sharon Stone and from the UK, extreme snowboarder Chris Southwell.
The risk of developing type 1 diabetes can be affected by your genetics; i.e. if your parents or siblings have type 1 diabetes.
- In terms of inheritance of type 1 diabetes - there is a 2% risk if the mother has type 1 diabetes, 8% risk if the father has type 1 diabetes; and a 30% risk of the child developing type 1 diabetes if both parents are type 1 
- Within 20 years of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, nearly all of those diagnosed have some degree of retinopathy