All You Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes: Symptoms and Causes

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms and Causes
Living with diabetes, hypertension or any other chronic disease requires you to do multiple things – track vitals, take medicines & stay on top of your health at all times. If this overwhelms you, switch to Phable – India’s No. 1 BP & Sugar Management App to manage your condition better. Take charge of your health and stay connected with doctors, order medicines and do a whole lot more from the comfort of your home.

Type 2 Diabetes, a lifestyle disease, understandably gets more attention in comparison to the less common diabetes, Type 1. However, Type 1 Diabetes is a serious condition and understanding it is equally important for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Let’s start with the basics of Type 1 Diabetes, symptoms and causes

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What is Type 1 Diabetes?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Causes of Type 1 Diabetes?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?
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    How is Type 1 Diabetes Managed?
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
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    FAQs
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What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes mellitus, known simply as Type 1 Diabetes, is a chronic autoimmune disorder, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the β-cells of your pancreas. The β-cells are responsible for producing the hormone insulin. Thus, there is little to no insulin production in your body with Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, as insulin administration is the only way to manage it. 

Type 1 Diabetes is commonly diagnosed between the ages of 4 to 6 and early puberty (10 to 14 years). Thus, it was previously also referred to as juvenile diabetes. However, you can develop Type 1 Diabetes at any age.

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What are the Causes of Type 1 Diabetes?

The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is not yet known. However, people with Type 1 Diabetes may have been born with a genetic susceptibility toward autoimmune conditions. Type 1 Diabetes may be triggered in susceptible individuals due to certain immunological or environmental factors like exposure to chemicals, viruses, etc. which may destroy the β-cells. Rarely, Type 1 Diabetes can also be caused by an injury to your pancreas. 

Some factors that can increase your risk for developing Type 1 Diabetes include:

  • Genetics: Having certain genes can play a role in developing Type 1 Diabetes.
  • Family History: People with a family history of Type 1 Diabetes, such as having a parent or sibling with the condition, are more likely to develop it.
  • Age: Age may also be a risk factor as Type 1 Diabetes usually develops in children, teens, or young adults.

Unlike Type 2 Diabetes, poor diet and lifestyle habits do not play a role in the development of Type 1 Diabetes.

What are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?

Generally, Diabetes Mellitus symptoms are caused by high blood glucose levels and are typical. However, some people with Type 1 Diabetes may have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.

Common signs and symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus include:

Increased Urination

It is one of the early symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, where your body produces more urine than normal as the excess glucose in your bloodstream draws more water. This condition of passing large volumes of urine more frequently is known as polyuria

Excessive Thirst

When your kidneys produce more urine in order to excrete the excess glucose in your blood, you lose fluids. This loss of fluids makes you feel excessively thirsty and leads to polydipsia

Constant Hunger 

In Type 1 Diabetes, your body cannot produce insulin. Therefore the glucose (from your food) stays in your blood (hyperglycemia) and is removed through urine instead of going into your cells. The cells do not have the energy they need to function well and signal your brain to continue to eat so they can get the glucose they need. This excessive hunger is known as polyphagiaHypoglycemia or low blood glucose levels may also cause polyphagia in diabetes. 

Unintentional Weight Loss

In Type 1 Diabetes, your body doesn’t produce insulin and thus glucose doesn’t reach your cells. Thus, your body starts thinking that it is starving and creates energy by burning stored fat and muscle, causing weight loss.

Fatigue

Several factors in Type 1 Diabetes can contribute to fatigue or extreme weakness. These factors include your cells not getting enough glucose for energy due to lack of insulin, other symptoms of diabetes such as frequent urination and weight loss, complications of diabetes, and issues with mental and emotional health in diabetes.

Changes in Vision

High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive in the back of your eye). These damaged blood vessels can swell and leak, cutting off nourishment to the retina. This causes structural changes in the retina and your eye, leading to symptoms like blurred and spotty vision. This condition is known as diabetic retinopathy. 

Numbness or Tingling in the Hands and Feet

High blood sugar levels in Type 1 Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves, especially the ones serving your extremities, causing numbness and tingling sensations in your hands, fingers, feet, and toes. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy.

Frequent Infections

Bacteria thrive well in the high sugar levels in the bloodstream in Diabetes. The high sugar levels can also prevent your immune system from fighting off the bacteria efficiently. Thus, the possibility of frequent infections is increased with Type 1 Diabetes. 

Slow-Healing Wounds and Sores

High blood sugar levels prevent nutrients and oxygen from energising cells, increase inflammation in the body, and slow down your immune system. When clubbed with neuropathy, and poor blood circulation, these factors slow down wound healing and increase your risk of infection.

How is Type 1 Diabetes Managed?

Type 1 Diabetes cannot be cured or prevented. It can only be managed. It requires lifelong care and treatment. 

Insulin therapy, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits can help you manage the condition effectively. Along with all this, monitoring your blood glucose levels becomes necessary so that your doctor can devise a treatment plan as per your body’s needs

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune condition where your body does not produce enough insulin to utilise the glucose present in your blood. 
  • The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown. It develops when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. Age, family history of Type 1 Diabetes, and genetics may play a role in its development. 
  • Type 1 Diabetes is commonly diagnosed between the ages of 4 to 6 and early puberty (10 to 14 years). However, you can develop Type 1 Diabetes at any age. 
  • Some of the common symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes include increased urination, excess thirst, constant hunger, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, changes in vision, numbness and tingling sensations in the extremities, frequent infections, and slow-healing wounds. 
  • Type 1 Diabetes cannot be cured or prevented. It can only be managed with Insulin therapy, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits. Along with all this, monitoring your blood glucose levels is also necessary.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

The earliest symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes include frequent urination, constant hunger, excess thirst, unintentional weight loss and fatigue. If you notice these symptoms, make sure that you consult your doctor at the earliest for a prompt diagnosis.

The diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes starts with getting your blood glucose levels checked. To confirm a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes and differentiate it from Type 2 Diabetes, tests such as the Islet Autoantibodies test, C-Peptide test, and Ketone test are performed.

The most common diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is between the ages of 4 and 6

No. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes yet. It is a lifelong condition that can be treated and managed with Insulin therapy and healthy lifestyle changes.

No. Unlike Type 2 Diabetes, diet and lifestyle are not contributory factors to the development of Type 1 Diabetes. It is an autoimmune condition that occurs in genetically susceptible individuals, for causes that have not yet been identified.

No. Currently, there is no proven way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes. However, research is ongoing and primary prevention strategies focus on avoiding the development of an autoimmune reaction in those who are genetically susceptible to Type 1 Diabetes.

The 3 Ps of Diabetes, including increased thirst (polydipsia), increased urination (polyuria), and increased hunger (polyphagia) are the 3 most common undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes symptoms include increased urination, excess thirst, constant hunger, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, changes in vision, and slow-healing wounds. The cause behind Type 1 Diabetes is unknown. It is an autoimmune disease that develops when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. Age, family history of Type 1 Diabetes, and genetics may be contributory factors in its development.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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