Type 1 diabetes mellitusÂ is due to the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas by the bodyâs own immune system. With these beta cells destroyed. There can be no production of the important hormone, insulin,
The immune system normally is activated to fight bacteria or viruses. However, in this case the immune system turns on to fight the body cells for reasons which scientists, to this day, are unable to ascertain. When it is the beta cells that are attacked, there is no longer any production of insulin by the body.
Type 1 Diabetes – Video Guide
In a normal person,Â insulinÂ is secreted in amounts sufficient to the need of the food ingested. When food is consumed, the presence of sugar or glucose in the bloodstream causes the pancreas to send insulin out. The amount of insulin released into the bloodstream depends upon the amount of sugar in the bloodstream and this depends upon the amount of simple and complex carbohydrates eaten in a meal.
Insulin acts to move sugar into the cells of the body. In the cells, the sugars are changed into energy and this energy is essential to the function and life of all the cells in the body.
With the sugar absorbed into the cells, the sugar in left in the bloodstream lessens. When the beta cells detect the decreasing amount of sugar in the bloodstream, it slows down the secretion of insulin and sends in glucagon in order to prevent the sugar level from becoming too low and leading to a condition known asÂ hypoglycemia. Unfortunately, with the beta cells no longer able to function, this is also a problem faced by Type 1 diabetics.
In Type 1 diabetics, sugars are unable to be absorbed into the cells due to absence of the bodyâs own insulin. With nowhere to go, the sugar in the bloodstream stays there while the cells are depleted of sugar and other nutrients. In such a situation, other body systems have to produce energy for the various functions of the body. With the sugar level in the bloodstream gradually increasing as more food is eaten, high blood sugar causes:
- DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis)
When body cells are depleted of energy due to a lack of insulin, fat cells are broken down by the body. A by-product of this fat breakdown are the acidic ketones which can be used to supply energy. The bloodstream become more acidic as more ketones enter the bloodstream. The liver reacts to the lack of energy supply by releasing its store of sugar and this raises the blood sugar level even higher. The high blood sugar level and the dehydration together with the acidity of the blood cause what is known as âketoacidosisâ which can endanger a diabeticâs life if the patient does not seek immediate treatment.Â .
- Weight loss
In expelling sugar from the body through the urine, the body loses many calories. As a result, there is the usual loss in weight. As liquid in the body comprises about 70% of body weight, dehydration is also a cause for such weight loss.
In an attempt to remove the excess sugar from the body, the kidney sends sugar out through urination. Due to the amount of urine expelled from the body, much liquid is lost, causing the body to be dehydrated.
- Damages caused
High blood sugar levelsÂ can harm the nerves as well as the tiny blood vessels of the kidneys, eyes and the heart and can lead to atherosclerosis which is a hardening of the arteries that eventually cause stroke and heart attack.