Diabetes is a major illness referring to an anomaly in the blood glucose levels and natural insulin secretion mechanism of the body. Diabetes affects people across different age groups. There are three main types of diabetes, type 1, type 2 and Gestational Diabetes. Each of these three types has different mechanisms of action. The type 1 category is also known as immune-mediated or insulin dependent diabetes. In this type, an auto immune reaction of the body’s own defense system attacks the insulin secreting Beta cells of the pancreas.
The reason for this particularly abnormal behavior is not fully known. Because of the autoimmune reaction, patients with Type 1 diabetes produce minimal insulin or no insulin at all. This disease can affect anyone of any age but is particularly prevalent in young children. People with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections to survive. It is also known as juvenile diabetes. A close relative of the type 1 diabetes is the secondary diabetes where the beta cells of the pancreas are not destroyed by the immune system, but due to other reasons like cystic fibrosis or a pancreatic surgery. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes and secondary diabetes are the same.
Type 1 diabetes causes
The exact reason behind contacting type 1 diabetes is still a medical mystery. Continuous research is being conducted in this direction to decipher the exact reason why the natural immune system of the body attacks the insulin producing pancreatic beta cells of the body. It can be an inherited disease as well.
However, genetic inheritance is not a major reason of type 1 diabetes. Only 10% of patients have a first degree relative with type 1 diabetes. Even in twins, there is 33% chance that one twin will have type 1 diabetes when the other has been affected by this disease. Researchers continue to identify genetic locations that are peculiar in patients with type 1 diabetes, Presently 18 such genetic locations, named IDDM 1-IDDM 1 have been discovered. In case of genetic transmission, children are more likely to inherit this disease from a father than from a mother.
In the course of research, doctors agree that an environmental trigger may play a major role in the development of type 1 diabetes. This certain toxin or a virus imparts a false trigger for the immune system to attack the pancreatic beta cells to the point that they generate no insulin or little insulin.
Enteric viruses and Coxsackieviruses have been deemed responsible for causing this false alarm within the immune system.These toxins called the autoantibodies are seen in most patients with type 1 diabetes. In fact, about 85-90% of people with type 1 diabetes display the presence of these destructive markers in their blood.
Since this is an autoimmune syndrome, type 1 diabetes can also occur along with other autoimmune syndromes. Other genetic and hormonal disorders also increase the risk of type 1 diabetes.
The presence of type 1 diabetes is diagnosed when the patient shows one or more of these symptoms.
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Increased hunger, even after eating a full meal
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal weight loss (even after you are feeling hungry and eating frequently)
- Labored breathing (Kussmaul respiration)
- Skin infections
- Infections in the urinary tract or vagina
- Shaking and confusion
- Intense abdominal pain
- Rapid breathing
- Fruity smell in the breath
- Loss of consciousness
Following these symptoms, the doctor asks the patient to undertake blood tests. Abnormally high blood glucose levels, and presence of glucose and ketone bodies in the urine are definitive tests for type 1 diabetes. Presently, no way has been discovered that can screen or prevent the development of the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Controlling type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes can be easily controlled if patients strictly follow the dietary chart provided by the doctor and the dietician. Daily insulin injection is also mandatory. Many people have been known to live a long and healthy life after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. There are exercises also to regulate the blood glucose level. The key objective is to maintain a normal sugar count in the blood stream, and it can be achieved by careful meal planning, activity planning and insulin injections.