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T1 Diabetes

Discussion in 'Ask A Question' started by Julie27318, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. Julie27318

    Julie27318 Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    I know someone with T1 Low blood sugar who don't make insulin so they have to have insulin given to them to survive.What i don't understand is why do they usually lose about 15-20 years off their life span if they are getting their insulin and that's supposed to keep them alive...so why should life span be shorter?
     
  2. Antje77

    Antje77 LADA · Moderator
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    I don't understand this part of your question, especially th 'low blood sugar' part.
    If you mean why do type1's live 15 to 20 years shorter than non-diabetics on average, I don't know if your source is right here regarding the statistics, but I suppose type1's live shorter on average because it's very hard to keep bg in non-diabetic numbers even for the most dedicated and intelligent T1. That means most T1's (and T2's for that matter) spend a substantial part of their lives with high bg, leading to complications.
    Personally, I strive to not be that average diabetic so I will screw up statistics.
     
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  3. Antje77

    Antje77 LADA · Moderator
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    Maybe read a couple of type1 threads. It's not like 'take this much insulin and your blood glucose will be fine'. It's more like, 'guess somewhere between 4 and 10 times a day if and how much insulin you need, when you screw up you'll have hypo's, hypers, or both alternately, and by the way, you will react differently to the same amount of food and insulin dayly'

    But look on it from the other side. Before insulin the average life span of a type1 was a couple of months or a year, now it's long enough to worry about retirement. And more and more T1's live to a very old age. The old ones now had to make do without meters, modern insulins, CGM's or pumps for a big part of their lives, the new diabetics have this from the start, reducing complications.
     
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  4. kitedoc

    kitedoc Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Julie27318, From my own experiences and diabetes education, not professional advice or opinion.
    As @Antje77 says, we T1Ds have to use insulin to try to keep our BSLS in a 'normal' range.
    So many things can affect the BSL levels such as season, weather, food, stress. exercise etc and we have to somehow work out the right balance of insulin, food exercise etc.
    We have to substitute for that part of our pancreas gland, the islet cells, which no longer make insulin.
    Usually these cells release insulin second by second in response to the body's glucose sensors - a process that developed over thousands of years of evolution. There are also people that have lost their pancreas gland by disease or trauma who have the double whammy of lost of insulin and glucagon producing cells (= T3D). In T1D we still have glucagon producing cells which can help counter low BSLs, not so in T3D.
    Once insulin was extracted and could be then given to diabetics by injection it became apparent that high sugar blood sugars over years led to diabetes complications such as kidney problems and made heart disease more likely. These complications shortened life spans. Also low blood sugars had the potential to cause brain damage and sometimes death.
    As morbid as all this sounds, with a combination of diligence, perseverance and luck, T1Ds can lead productive lives and even some of the people who were prescribed insulin soon after it was developed for human use lived 60 plus years.
    Now modern developments in control of BSLS and ways to reduce complications such blood pressure control etc have improved markedly and so has the length of life for us T1Ds.
    I hope that answers your query.
     
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  5. DCUKMod

    DCUKMod I reversed my Type 2 · Master
    Staff Member Administrator

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    @Julie27318 - The lifespan statistics for any group of the population tend to be based on either assumptions or an historic picture.

    In times gone past, T1s using insulin didn't have the testing resources we have now, so a lot more of their day to day management was somewhat hit and miss, and nor were the insulins they took quite as predictable in terms of how they work in the human body.

    That's not to say that everything is hunky-dory for T1s today, but certainly things, in terms of tools available to aid management, things have improved generally.

    Like all things medical, much can depend on the individual and how much care they take of themselves. A T1 given all the tools in the world, but choosing not to do them isn't likely to have a smooth ride through life, but someone taking great care of themselves will usually do better. Like all things there will be exceptions to those rules.

    I am fortunate to know an 87 year old T1, who has been T1 since his early teens. Six months ago I could have stated that he was completely hail and hearty, and riding his bicycle every day and still playing badminton a couple of times a week, but in the last couple of months he's had a couple of things crop up that are cramping his style a bit!

    Let's face it, if at 87 he's knocking 15-20 years off his life, he'd otherwise be going until at least 102, or even older.

    Like many things in life, when a challenge comes our way, it is very much up to us to make the best of what we have, and if diabetes is part of our person package, we have to get on and learn to live our best lives with that passenger along the way.

    If your friend is doing their very best to manage their diabetes carefully and striving for healthy levels, there's not much else they can do. None of us know how much longer we have to live, and could have some accident befall us at any time.

    If my immediate family history were to have a bearing on my lifespan, then my father died when he was only a year or so older than I am not, but my mother lasted a bit longer, until 75. My intention is to do my best to outlive them and grow old disgracefully. We don't have the whole answer in our hands, but we can help stack the hand of cards we're dealt into our favour.
     
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  6. KK123

    KK123 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I think the question is a good one and shows how misunderstood type 1 diabetes is (as with other types too). People think that injecting insulin is just like taking a pill for something, ie, take the pill and job done! All I can equate it to is imagine that YOU have to do the job of a crucial organ in your body, one that keeps you alive, one that requires your full attention, one that is often completely unpredictable and adapts and changes in accordance with what the rest of your body is doing unbeknownst to you. The reason life expectancy is so much shorter is because despite a person's best efforts, the impact of high or low glucose levels over long periods of time, attacks every other organ in your body, kidney, liver, heart, brain, cells. A 'normal' person's body is perfect at releasing insulin whenever it is needed no matter what the person is eating or doing. A type 1's does not do this so we have to rely on ourselves and to me, that is like shooting in the dark.
     
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  7. becca59

    becca59 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Well I for one am intending to have a good life span despite the type 1. Unless I get run over by a bus of course!
     
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  8. Deleted Account

    Deleted Account · Guest

    As @KK123 has explained, treating type 1 diabetes is not about taking a "pill of insulin".
    It is calculating when to take the insulin and how much insulin to take replacing the function of a healthy pancreas.
    There are so many things that impact when and how much insulin to take. Many of these are unpredictable and others are variable.
    We have guides about how much insulin to take for every 10g carbs and how much 1 unit of insulin reduces our BG and how much 1 dextrose increases our BG. But there are just estimates that don't take into consideration sickness, exercise, alcohol, protein, time of day/month/year, stress, how fast the carbs are consumed, how slow the carbs are consumed, insulin resistance when our BG s high, ...

    So, why does someone with type 1 diabetes have a lower lifespan (on average) than someone without diabetes? Because getting these calculations, estimates and pure guess right is very very difficult.

    And that doesn't take into consideration how common it is for someone to have a second (or third) auto-immune disease which may also reduce our lifespan.
     
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  9. sweetbloodsher

    sweetbloodsher Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that, high blood sugar affects the heart, and most diabetics die from heart disease. Of course, constant low's are very bad for the brain and can lead to early onset dementia. Type 1's are expected to stay balanced and in range, which is a life long challenge.
     
  10. Robbity

    Robbity Type 2 · Expert

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    It always amazes and impresses me, considering all the calculations and guestimates that a T1 may need to do every single day of their lives, how well so many of our members manage to control their diabetes. I hold them in the highest regard.

    Robbity
     
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  11. Antje77

    Antje77 LADA · Moderator
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    Have I already told you I love you, @Robbity ? And please remember I'm equally impressed by T2's, who mostly manage with less tools to correct mistakes and still are able to keep their diabetes in check! And the T2's who need insulin in doses that are pretty scary when making mistakes.
     
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