Type 1 Diabetes: What You Should Know About This Rare Form of Diabetes Mellitus

type 1 diabetes

Story at-a-glance -

  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a rare and lifelong disease wherein the immune system destroys beta cells in the pancreas, which are needed for the production of insulin
  • Juvenile diabetes is also another term used to refer to this disease, as it was commonly diagnosed in children

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a rare and lifelong disease wherein the immune system destroys beta cells in the pancreas, which are needed for the production of insulin. It's also known as insulin-dependent diabetes since it requires frequent administration of insulin through injection or insulin pump in order to make up for the lack of insulin production in the body.1

Juvenile diabetes is also another term used to refer to this disease, as it was commonly diagnosed in children. However, numerous studies over the past years have shown that type 1 diabetes mellitus may also occur at any age.2,3 Type 1 diabetes that occurs in adults over 35 years old is also called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA).4

A Few Facts About Type 1 Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, around 30.3 million Americans had diabetes in 2015, 1.25 million of which are suffering from type 1 diabetes.5 These numbers are expected to rise every year, especially with the lack of permanent cure for type 1 diabetes.

Moreover, the exact cause behind this disease is undetermined, but research suggests that family history, age, ethnicity and geography are some of the possible risk factors.6 Those who suffer from this condition also exhibit a few early warning signs, including:7

  • Increased thirst and appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Weakness
  • Rapid weight loss

The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are easy to spot because they appear suddenly.8 However, it may not be as easy to diagnose since its symptoms are a bit similar to that of Type 2 diabetes.9 A physician can confirm whether you or a loved one has this condition by conducting a series of tests. Keep in mind that early detection of this disease is vital to prevent it from leading to serious complications.10

How Does Type 1 Diabetes Affect Your Daily Life?

Type 1 diabetes is a demanding disease, and it can affect your life in more ways than one, especially if not properly managed. Unlike other diseases that can be managed by professional treatment alone, Type 1 diabetes requires constant time and attention, so managing it can be quite stressful.

For instance, patients who are diagnosed with this condition must check their glucose levels at least four times per day using a blood sugar meter.11

Moreover, balancing insulin levels is a constant challenge that Type 1 diabetes patients must overcome. The amount of insulin that a person needs may change every day due to different factors, so it's often impossible to know precisely how much insulin to take.

Taking too much insulin may result in hypoglycemia, while taking too little may cause hyperglycemia — both of these conditions can be life-threatening if left untreated.12

Those who are suffering from Type 1 diabetes are also at risk of developing short- and long-term complications, such as heart and blood diseases, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye problems and skin and mouth conditions.13

There Is No Cure for Type 1 Diabetes yet, but You Can Control It

Even though there's no known cure for Type 1 diabetes, there are still ways to control this disease and prevent it from worsening. Taking insulin injections several times per day is the conventional way to keep blood sugar level within the proper range. You can also control your blood sugar level by making a few lifestyle and diet changes.14

Since type 1 diabetes requires lifelong treatment and self-management, it may cause psychological challenges over time15 — this is exactly why it's important to get support from relatives and friends. Joining a support group for Type 1 diabetes patients may also help lessen its impact on your quality of life.16

Expanding your knowledge about this form of diabetes is one of the best ways to cope with it and live an almost normal life. These pages can help you further understand Type 1 diabetes, its warning signs in children and adults, the possible causes behind it and recommended treatment methods.

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