Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition affecting many children or people in their adolescence. It is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. The condition occurs when your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or no insulin. Your body needs insulin hormone to allow sugar in the blood to enter the cells. Only then it can produce the energy needed for the body. The chronic condition develops when your body’s immune system destroys the insulin-making cells in the pancreas. The condition has no cure. So, the treatment only focuses on managing the blood sugar levels. The normal sugar levels are maintained with diet, insulin, and lifestyle modification. Without management, the condition can cause severe complications.
Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes
While the condition affects young people, it can also develop in people in their advanced ages. You can detect the problem by observing for the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Frequent urination
- Bed-wetting in children at night (a sudden problem, not noted beforehand)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
In such cases, you need to see a doctor and discuss the symptoms. If you see the signs in your child, then getting a professional opinion is the best to prevent complications.
Causes Of Type 1 Diabetes
The exact reason for the development of type 1 diabetes remains unclear. But, researchers believe that your body’s immune system mistakenly destroys islet cells (insulin-producing cells in the pancreas). The other causes of the problem include:
- Exposure to virus
- Problems due to environmental factors
The Role Of Insulin In Developing Type 1 Diabetes
The destruction of a significant number of islet cells can lead to the production of little or no insulin. Insulin is the necessary hormone secreted by the pancreas. It is the gland situated below and behind the stomach. It has the following functions:
- The organ secretes insulin into your bloodstream
- Insulin hormone circulates in your body allowing the sugar to enter your cells
- The insulin hormone can reduce the sugar levels in your bloodstream
- When the sugar levels drop, the pancreas stops the secretion of insulin
The Role Of Glucose
Glucose (sugar) is needed by your body. It is the main source of energy for your cells. These cells constitute your muscles and other tissues. Your body gets glucose from two major sources, your liver, and food. Glucose is absorbed by your blood with assistance from insulin when it enters the cells. While the liver stores it as glycogen. When you fail to eat food, then the glucose levels come down. Then, your liver breaks down the stored glycogen and converts it to glucose. When you suffer from type 1 diabetes, your body has no insulin hormone to let the glucose into the cells. Therefore, the sugar starts to build in the bloodstream, leading to life-threatening complications.
Risk Factors Associated With Type 1 Diabetes
While all people can develop the problem, some factors put you at risk of developing it more. The factors linked to the condition are:
If you have a close family member like a parent or sibling with the condition, then you face the risk of developing the condition.
People possessing certain genes can develop type 1 diabetes.
People living away from the equator have more chances of developing the condition compared to others.
There are two major peaks for the condition. The problem is more common among children aged four or seven years old. It can also develop in children between the age of ten and fourteen. But, it can develop in people of any age.
Diagnostic Methods To Detect Type 1 Diabetes
To diagnose the high blood sugar levels, your doctor can perform the following diagnostic tests:
You need to inform the doctor about the signs you suffer. Extreme thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss can point towards high blood sugar levels. Your doctor can suggest further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) Test
It is the test that sheds light on your blood sugar levels for the past two or three months. Using the test, your doctor can detect the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin. So, higher blood sugar levels indicate more hemoglobin attached to sugar.
Random Blood Sugar Test
Your doctor sends a sample of your blood drawn at a random time. if necessary, your doctor repeats the tests. If the blood sugar levels for the test come back 200mg/dL or higher, then it indicates you have high blood sugar levels.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
You need to give a sample of blood after an overnight fast. You can interpret the result of the blood test as:
- 100mg/dL- Normal
- 100mg/dL to 125mg/dL- Prediabetes
- 126mg/dL or higher- Diabetes
Autoantibodies In Blood
Your doctor also checks for autoantibodies. It is present in people suffering from type 1 diabetes. The test can also differentiate from type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The presence of ketones in the urine can indicate type 1 of high blood sugar instead of type 2.
Based on the tests, your doctor can develop a treatment plan suiting your purpose.
Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes
The treatment goal is to keep your blood sugar level close to normal. It can aid in delaying or preventing the complications associated with high sugar levels. So, you need to keep your daytime blood sugar level between the value 80mg/dL and 130mg/dL. While you have to maintain the values not more than 180mg/dL after consuming food. The value is measured two hours after eating food. So your doctor can suggest the two main methods to control the sugar levels.
For treating type 1 diabetes, you need lifelong insulin therapy. Since insulin can breakdown when it comes to contact with stomach enzymes, you cannot take it orally. So, you have to use either an injection or insulin pump to lower the blood sugar levels. Here are some of the effective ways to get insulin:
You can either use an insulin pen or a fine needle to inject insulin under the skin. The insulin pen as the name suggests looks like an ink pen. It has insulin stored in it. You just need to inject it. It is available in disposable or refillable varieties. While using a needle, you need to take insulin in a syringe and inject it. It is necessary to take injections three or four times a day to see improvement in blood sugar levels.
An insulin pump is another way to get the necessary insulin hormones. It is a small device that looks like a deck of cards or a small smartphone. The computerized device mimics the working of a human pancreas. So, it delivers small doses of insulin continuously or a variable amount of insulin after your meal. You can wear it outside the body while a catheter delivers insulin. The tube is connected to a cannula, which is placed under the skin around the stomach region.
Today you have the option of an artificial pancreas to manage high blood sugar levels in children who are fourteen years or older. It is also known as closed-loop insulin delivery. It is an implanted medical device consisting of an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor. While the continuous glucose monitor checks the blood sugar levels automatically every five minutes, the insulin pump delivers the necessary amount of insulin needed by your body. Wireless communication makes it possible for the automatic data transfer between the components. So, it can work without any human intervention.
Your doctor can also suggest additional medications for dealing with other health problems triggered due to high blood sugar levels. So, you are prescribed the following
High Blood Pressure Medication
High blood pressure can cause high pressure. So, your doctor can prescribe ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) or ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers) to prevent any kidney problems.
To protect your heart health, your doctor can suggest taking a baby or regular aspirin to protect your heart.
Medicines To Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol guidelines are tough for people suffering from high blood sugar. It is because of the high risk of developing heart disease. So, your doctor can prescribe medications to keep the cholesterol under control.
Lifestyle Remedies To Manage Type 1 Diabetes
While you have medications to manage high blood sugar levels, you also need to takes some steps to deal with the condition at home.
Record Blood Sugar Levels
Depending on the therapy you choose or require, you have to check your blood sugar levels frequently. So, record the blood sugar levels at least four times a day. It is because the sugar levels tend to fluctuate even with a rigid schedule. So, it can become unpredictable and lead to different complications. You have to learn to manage the levels in response to the following triggers:
- Use of alcohol
You can monitor the blood sugar levels with CGM (Continuous glucose monitoring). You can know the fluctuating sugar levels and take necessary actions to avoid any complications.
Healthy Eating Habits
You have no specific diet for diabetes. But, you need to monitor your carbohydrates intake. So, center your diet on low-fat, high-fiber, and nutritious foods like:
- Whole grains
Develop a diet plan after consulting a dietician to ensure you eat fewer carbohydrates and give enough time for the body to metabolize the carbohydrates.
Include Physical Activity
For managing high blood sugar, you need to include regular exercise. Try to include activities you enjoy like:
Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise in a week. It is applicable for children as they need to aim at least an hour of physical activity. Since physical activity lowers sugar levels, you need to check the sugar levels frequently. It is known if the activity affects your blood sugar levels. Adjust insulin doses and meal plan to compensate for the increased physical activity.
Signs Of Trouble
Despite your best efforts to manage the blood sugar levels, you can experience problems unexpectedly. You can develop short-term complications, which requires immediate medical care like:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Hyperglycemia (High blood sugar)
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (Increased ketones in your urine)
Potential Future Treatments For Type 1 Diabetes
While the existing treatments can help you manage the complications associated with high blood sugar, you still tend to face some amount of risk. The treatment options can cause issues at some point in time. So, researchers are trying for new treatment options for better management. The options under investigation are:
A successful pancreas transplant can solve your type 1 diabetes issue. It ensures you no longer need insulin. Unfortunately, the transplants are not 100% successful as serious risks are linked to the procedure. Therefore, the procedure is reserved for people who also need a kidney transplant or who can find it difficult to manage diabetes.
Islet Cell Transplantation
Experiments are still underway with islet cell transplantation. The transplantation provides your body with new insulin-producing cells from a healthy donor pancreas. The dismal past results of the experimental procedure make it impossible to consider it as a good treatment option. Today, you have new techniques and use of better drugs to prevent islet cell rejection. So, it improves the chances of it becoming a successful treatment.
Complications Associated With Type 1 Diabetes
People suffering from type 1 diabetes need to seek medical attention. They need to take steps to keep their sugar in control. Else, it can trigger severe complications. The complications linked to the condition are:
Over time, the uncontrolled glucose levels in the body can affect major organs. So, you can face the following health ailments causing disability or life-threatening complications:
Heart And Blood Vessel Disease
High blood sugar can affect the blood vessels and heart health. So, it increases the risk of cardiovascular problems like:
- Heart Attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries)
- High blood pressure
High sugar levels tend to injure your capillaries (walls of tiny blood vessels). These blood vessels nourish the nerves in the body, especially in the legs. So, damage to these nerves can cause the following:
- Tingling sensation
- Pain or burning sensation beginning at tips of toes and spreading upward
Without proper medical attention and sugar control, you will lose all sense of feeling in the limbs affected. The nerve damage to your gastrointestinal tract can result in the following:
In men, the nerve damage can affect their sexual life as it can cause erectile dysfunction.
High levels of blood sugar can affect the tiny blood vessels in the kidney. These blood vessel clusters aids in filtering waste from the blood. High sugar levels can cause damage to the filtering system. The damage can cause kidney failure or severe end-stage kidney disease. Such dire cases require kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Type 1 diabetes can also cause retinal blood vessel damage (diabetic retinopathy). So, people need to control their blood sugar levels to avoid blindness and other serious vision conditions like glaucoma and cataracts.
Poor blood flow to the feet or nerve damage in the feet can trigger several foot complications. Untreated blisters and cuts can result in serious infections. Without proper treatment, it can ultimately result in toe, foot or leg amputation.
Skin And Mouth Conditions
High blood sugar can leave a person susceptible to infections affecting the skin and mouth. Bacterial and fungal infection can affect your skin. You can suffer from dry mouth and gum diseases due to untreated high blood sugar levels.
Women who are pregnant need to check their blood sugar levels frequently. Diabetic mothers can face danger to their health as well as their unborn baby’s health due to uncontrolled sugar levels. The condition can increase the risk of the following:
- Birth defects
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
Risk Of Certain Life Circumstances
When you have uncontrolled blood sugar levels, you can face risk while facing certain circumstances in your life like:
You can suffer from hypoglycemia at any time when you have high blood sugar levels. So, it can put you at risk of accidents when you are behind the wheel. You need to maintain the blood sugar levels to avoid it going below the desired values. So, you need to keep a snack with you to manage such conditions.
You can face challenges in your workplace due to type 1 diabetes. It is especially true for people who handle heavy machinery. So, hypoglycemia can put you and others working around you at risk. You need regular blood test and a favorable situation to test your blood sugar levels. You must also have access to food and drink to keep the sugar levels normal.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
To avoid serious complications of type 1 diabetes, you need careful management. Without proper management at home, you can face life-threatening complications. So, you need to consider the following tips:
Make A Commitment
You need to commit yourself to manage the condition. So, follow the instructions suggested by the doctor. Apart from that, you need to have a healthy schedule like:
- Eat healthy foods
- Include physical activity
- A follow-up appointment with the doctor
You need to identify yourself by wearing a medical tag or bracelet. It has information about your condition. In case of emergency, people can offer assistance. Also, keep a glucagon kit and make your friends or loved ones learn how to use it. So, in case of a low blood sugar emergency, you can get the desired help to avoid complications.
Schedule Health Check
You need to schedule a yearly physical checkup, including eye exams. It is different from the regular checkups. You need to undergo a physical examination to detect any complication triggered due to high blood sugar. Eye testing can detect any signs of cataracts, retinal damage or glaucoma.
Since high sugar levels can affect your immune system, you need to keep your vaccination up to date. It reduces the risk of suffering from any diseases. Get your annual flu shot and pneumonia vaccination.
Monitor Your Foot Health
People with high blood sugar levels can face an issue with their feet. So, pay close attention to the feet health. Wash your feet every day in lukewarm water. Pat them dry, especially between the toes. Use a moisturizer lotion on your feet. Check your feet daily for the following and manage them without delay:
If your cuts, sore or other foot problems do not heal, then consult a doctor immediately.
Control Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
Using tobacco products like cigarettes can increase the risk associated with high blood sugar levels. It can affect your kidney, heart, and nerves. So, talk to your doctor about quitting the bad habit. Get professional help if necessary.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Drink alcohol responsibly. Never consume more than the suggested limit. People with high blood sugar see extreme fluctuations in sugar levels with alcohol consumption. So, depending on the amount of drink you consume and what you eat, the sugar levels can increase or decrease. If you decide to drink, then do so in moderation. Always eat a good meal to maintain sugar levels. Check our sugar levels before going to sleep.
You need to take stress seriously. Prolonged stress can trigger hormone production in your body. These hormones can prevent the insulin produced in your body from working properly. It can further cause frustration and added stress. So, you need to take a step back and relax. You need to follow some steps to ensure stress does not affect your sugar levels. So, follow the steps:
- Set some limits and prioritize our tasks
- Get good sleep
- Learn relaxation techniques
Coping And Support For Type 1 Diabetes
High blood sugar in young children can cause a huge impact on their emotional health directly and indirectly. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels affect your emotional state directly. So, it can cause behavior changes. People can become more irritable and resentful about the health problem. It can also cause depression. So, you need to take steps to address diabetes-related distress. Here are some of the pointers for coping with the condition.
Talk To A Specialist
You need to talk to a psychologist or social worker for managing the emotional issues associated with high blood sugar.
You have online and offline support groups to talk about the problems. You can ask your queries and concerns and get proper support. The members of the group have the information on the latest treatment options available and their effectiveness. The group members share their experiences and valuable information that can help you manage the problem.
Preventing Type 1 Diabetes
You have no fool-proof method to prevent type 1 diabetes. But, several researchers are now working to determine the best technique to avoid the problem. It focuses on further destruction of the islet cells when a person is newly diagnosed for the problem.
Type 1 diabetes is a severe problem when you fail to manage it. So, you need to take your doctor’s advice and take steps to manage the blood sugar levels. You need to combine diet restrictions and take insulin as per suggestion to bring down the high sugar levels. Without medical intervention, you can suffer from severe complications. So, never ignore the problem and take adequate steps.
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