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Type 1 Diabetes

Overview

Type 1 Diabetes happens when the pancreas produces little to no insulin, a hormone crucial for using glucose as energy. Without insulin, blood sugar rises, causing harm over time. Managing it involves regular blood sugar monitoring and insulin treatment, with lifestyle adjustments to control levels and reduce complications.

For Parents

If your child has Type 1 Diabetes, daily care involves providing healthy foods, administering insulin, and monitoring for and treating low blood sugar. Regular communication with the healthcare team is essential for understanding and managing the treatment plan effectively.

Definition

Type 1 Diabetes, formerly known as “Juvenile Diabetes or Insulin-Dependent Diabetes”, is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is essential for allowing sugar (glucose) to enter cells and generate energy in the body.

This can develop in childhood or adulthood, and has no cure. Treatment involves managing blood sugar through insulin, diet, and lifestyle to prevent complications.

How common is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a prevalent condition, with around 1.24 million people in the United States living with it. The number is projected to increase to five million by 2050. While it commonly affects children, adults can also be diagnosed with this chronic disease.

Symptoms and Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms

The symptoms usually begin mildly and worsen over time. This progression occurs because the pancreas produces less and less insulin. It can include:

  1. increased thirst and urination
  2. increased hunger
  3. blurred vision
  4. fatigue
  5. unexplained weight loss

Detecting and treating diabetes early can reduce the risk of developing complications associated with the condition.

Can symptoms appear suddenly?

Sometimes, symptoms of type 1 diabetes can follow a viral illness. In severe cases, it may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) with symptoms like fruity breath, heavy breathing, and vomiting. DKA is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. If you notice symptoms, contact your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes Onset in an Infant or Child

For young children with new-onset type 1 diabetes:

Raising awareness about type 1 diabetes in young children is vital for early detection and management. If symptoms are observed, timely medical evaluation is crucial.

  1. Classic Symptoms
    • Frequent urination
    • Drinking large amounts
    • Weight loss
    • Increased tiredness
  2. Bedwetting Clue
    • Regression in nighttime dryness in potty-trained children
  3. Diagnosis Challenge
    • Blood glucose check at the doctor’s office is the diagnosis.
    • Recognizing symptoms is crucial for timely medical attention.
  4. Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
    • Lack of insulin leads to ketone buildup.
    • DKA is a medical emergency requiring hospitalization and insulin treatment.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes Onset in Adults

For adults diagnosed with diabetes:

  1. Misdiagnosis Challenge
    • Often wrongly diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
    • Lack of awareness that type 1 can develop at any age.
  2. Varied Demographics
    • Type 1 can affect people of all races, sizes, and ages.
    • Elevated blood glucose and type 2 risk factors can lead to misdiagnosis.
  3. Atypical Presentation
    • Some adults with new-onset type 1 diabetes may not initially show symptoms.
    • Elevated blood glucose discovered during routine visits.
  4. Initial Treatment
    • Diet, exercise, and oral medication may be prescribed initially.
    • Correct diagnosis is crucial for effective management.

Risk Factors

Some factors that can raise your risk for type 1 diabetes include:

  1. Family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly higher risk of developing the condition.
  2. Genetics. Having certain genes increases the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
  3. Geography. The number of people who have type 1 diabetes tends to be higher as you travel away from the equator.
  4. Age. Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, but it appears at two noticeable peaks. The first peak occurs in children between 4 and 7 years old. The second is in children between 10 and 14 years old.

Causes

  1. Autoimmune Reaction
    1. Body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
  2. Possible Causes
    1. Genetics:
      1. Family history may increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
    2. Environmental Factors:
      1. Exposure to viruses and other environmental elements.

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

  1. Eye Problems: diabetes-related retinopathy, diabetes-related macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma.
  2. Foot Problems: including ulcers and infections that can lead to gangrene.
  3. Heart disease.
  4. High blood pressure.
  5. Kidney disease.
  6. Oral health problems.
  7. Diabetes-related neuropathy: nerve damage.
  8. Skin Conditions: such as dry skin, bacterial and fungal infections, and diabetes-related dermopathy.
  9. Stroke.

Tests for Type 1 Diabetes

If you or your child has symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, your healthcare provider will order the following tests:

  1. Blood Glucose Test: Your healthcare provider checks your blood sugar levels  to assess for diabetes.
    1. Random Test:Without fasting, check blood sugar levels at any time.
    2. Fasting Test:No food or drink for at least eight hours before the test.
  1. Glycosylated Haemoglobin test (A1c) : This test provides a three-month average of your blood sugar levels, helping diagnose and manage diabetes.
  2. Antibody Test: This blood test checks for specific proteins that attack the body’s own tissues, helping identify Type 1 diabetes.

Your healthcare provider may order additional tests to assess your overall health and check for diabetes-related complications such as ketoacidosis.

  1. Basic Metabolic Panel: This blood test that measures various substances in your blood to provide information about your body’s chemical balance and metabolism.
  2. Urinalysis: This test examines the visual, chemical, and microscopic aspects of your urine. For a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, the test may be ordered to check for ketones, a substance released when the body breaks down fat for energy instead of using glucose.
  3. Arterial Blood Gas : This blood test that requires a sample from an artery in your body to measure the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood.

Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

What kind of doctors treat Type 1 Diabetes?

An Endocrinologist, a healthcare provider specializing in hormone-related conditions, is the expert who typically treats individuals with Type 1 diabetes. Some endocrinologists specialize specifically in diabetes care.

How is Type 1 Diabetes treated?

People with Type 1 diabetes require synthetic insulin every day, multiple times a day, to maintain their health. Managing Type 1 diabetes is complex and personalized, as various factors influence blood sugar levels.

Three of the main components of Type 1 diabetes management include:

  1. Insulin.
  2. Blood glucose (sugar) monitoring.
  3. Carbohydrate counting.

Side Effects of Type 1 Diabetes

The main side effect of diabetes treatment through insulin is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Low blood sugar can occur if you take too much insulin based on your food intake and/or activity level. Hypoglycemia is usually considered to be below 70 mg/dL (milligrams per decilitre).

Conclusion

Now that you know about Type 1 Diabetes, treatments, and Side effects. For a detailed Diet Consultation feel free to reach out to us.

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