Understanding – Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes mellitus has no cure and is therefore considered chronic. As it is due to the failure of the pancreas to produce insulin that results in the glucose in the bloodstream remaining there instead of being taken into the cells through the assistance of insulin, the level of glucose or sugar in the blood of type 1 diabetics is too high. Our digestive system changes all forms of carbohydrates into glucose so that it can enter the bloodstream to be taken to the cells as a means of getting energy. The muscle tissues and liver store any excess glucose. They release such excess glucose whenever no more food is available to be converted to glucose, perhaps during sleep, although energy is still required for the functions of the various organs.
For glucose to enter cells, the hormone, insulin, is needed. Normally, when glucose level in the bloodstream rises, insulin is released by the pancreas. However, with the beta cells in the pancreas not functioning in Type 1 diabetes mellitus, insulin cannot be released. To overcome this, Type 1 diabetics have to get insulin injections.
With available insulin injections, Type 1 diabetes becomes manageable. Nevertheless, there must be proper management of the condition to prevent complications which can be fatal.
What is Type 1 Diabetes - Video Guide
Who Is at Risk?
What are the risk factors? When it comes to Type 1 diabetes, there are some factors which have yet to be ascertained. Let us examine some of them.
- Geography is also involved in this. The further a country is away from the equator, the chances of getting Type 1 diabetes get higher. Scientists discovered that people in Finland are a few hundred times more susceptible to the condition than the inhabitants of the U.S.A.
- And researchers have concluded that race can be a risk factor. According to them, Caucasians are more susceptible to type 1 diabetes than Asians or Africans.
- According to statistics, it is usually the young, most of them between the ages of 11 and 14, who are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And that is the reason it is also known as ”juvenile diabetes”. Seldom does the condition occur after the age of 40.
- In some cases, the condition could be due to the genes. In such cases, people with parents who have the Type 1 diabetes are predisposed towards the condition.
How Is Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Diagnosed?
A number of tests are usually made to diagnose Type 1 diabetes. To ensure that tests results are accurate, the tests have to be carried out twice or more, as certain other factors may cause the result to be inaccurate.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
For this test, a person fasts from ten o’clock the previous evening until the test is completed the next morning. With this more accurate test, a normal person should have blood sugar level below 100 mg/L. If it is pre-diabetes, then the result will be between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL while a diabetic will get a value of at least 126 mg/dL.
Random Blood Sugar Test
As the name suggests, the test is not planned and therefore there is no fasting involved. A normal person should not have a blood sugar level above 139 mg/dL.
Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) Test
For oxygen to be taken to the cells and the various organs in the body, it needs hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Glucose sticks to hemoglobin as it moves to every part of the body. The hemoglobin AIC test indicates the amount of blood sugar which is sticking to the hemoglobin. The test will show the average level of the blood sugar for previous months. If the percentage of blood sugar sticking to the hemoglobin is less than 6.5, then it is normal. However, a reading between 5.7 – 6.4 shows there is risk of being a type 1 diabetic. Above 6.5 % and a person is diagnosed as diabetic. Using the same test, a diabetic will know how well the condition is controlled.
How Is Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Treated?
Actually Type 1 diabetes mellitus cannot be cured and, therefore, the diabetic has to control his blood sugar level as near to the normal range as possible. This can be managed through insulin injections and practicing healthy living.
Diet and Exercise
Type 1 diabetics ought to have their meals at regular times to stabilize their blood sugar level. They should seek a dietician’s assistance to plan a proper diet. Another way to keep blood sugar level stable is to exercise.
Type 1 diabetics must have insulin injections regularly. For those people who fear the needle, an insulin pump can be used to inject insulin through a connection in the skin. Insulin helps to regulate the blood sugar levels.
Since blood sugar levels are affected by exercise and diet and so vary accordingly, type 1 diabetics need to regularly find out their own blood sugar level so as to know how much insulin is needed.
The nerves, especially those in the feet, can be damaged by type 1 diabetes mellitus. Even small cuts do not heal easily and soon turn septic. So, regular examination of the feet has to be a part of diabetes treatment. Damage to the skin should be attended to by a doctor.
The following are possible complications that can be expected for type 1 diabetes.
- High cholesterol.
- High blood pressure.
- Kidney damage.
- Nerve pain.
- Greater risk of heart attack.
- Problems of the eye, possibly blindness.
- Infections of the skin due to cuts, leading to gangrene and amputation.
The above complications often occur to diabetics who do not manage their condition well.
What is the Prognosis for Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
With the right treatment, type 1 diabetes can be well managed. As long as the blood sugar level is always under control, no serious complications is expected to develop.