You might often refer to Type 2 Diabetes as just “Diabetes” as it is the most common type of diabetes that most of us know of. But there is another kind - Type 1 Diabetes, which accounts for about 5-10% of diabetes cases globally. So what is Type 1 Diabetes? How would you know if you have it? Can it be prevented? How is it managed? Read on to know everything about it!Contents:
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic health condition in which your body is unable to produce or use the insulin hormone effectively.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the β (beta) cells in your pancreas. It helps regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) present in your blood. Your body digests the food you eat and breaks it down into glucose (sugar). This glucose gets absorbed into your bloodstream and is transported to your cells, which convert the glucose into energy. Insulin acts like a key to let glucose enter your cells.
In diabetes mellitus, the body is unable to produce or use insulin effectively, leading to the glucose being unable to enter your cells and resulting in high blood glucose levels.
Type 1 Diabetes mellitus, known simply as Type 1 Diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder, where your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing β-cells in your pancreas. This results in little to no insulin production in your body.
Type 1 Diabetes is less common when compared to Type 2 Diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reports that around 5 to 10% of all cases of diabetes mellitus worldwide are of 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 was previously also referred to as juvenile diabetes, as it mainly affects children, adolescents and young adults. However, it can also be diagnosed in older adults.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder with the exact cause still not known. However, people with Type 1 Diabetes may have been born with a genetic susceptibility toward autoimmune conditions. The condition may then be triggered due to certain immunological or environmental factors like exposure to chemicals, viruses, etc. which may destroy your β-cells. In rare cases, Type 1 Diabetes can also be caused by an injury to your pancreas.
Unlike Type 2 Diabetes, poor diet and other lifestyle habits do not play a role in the development of Type 1 Diabetes.
Just like its exact cause, the risk factors for Type 1 Diabetes are not very clear. However, some factors that can raise your risk for Type 1 Diabetes include:
In Type 1 Diabetes, the symptoms may move from mild to severe and develop over a period of weeks or even months.
Type 1 Diabetes is diagnosed on the basis of blood tests to check your blood glucose levels, the same way that Type 2 Diabetes is.
Diabetes is diagnosed if:
The diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is confirmed by performing the following tests:
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes at present, as the cause of the condition is still unknown. However, research is ongoing on the ways to identify individuals who are at a risk for developing Type 1 Diabetes and preventing it before the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed.
Meanwhile, Type 1 Diabetes can be managed with insulin injections and the appropriate lifestyle changes.
Can Type 1 Diabetes be cured? Unfortunately, not yet. Type 1 Diabetes is a condition that requires lifelong care and treatment. Insulin therapy, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits can help you manage the condition effectively.
At the moment, insulin is the only medication available to treat Type 1 Diabetes. It is available in the form of an injection and has to be taken every day for effective blood glucose control. There are many types of insulin available in the market. Your doctor will prescribe the best type and the course of insulin treatment, based on the severity of your condition and your physiological needs.
Including foods from all the major categories like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, dairy, lean meat, etc. in your diet in the right amounts can help you receive all the essential nutrients that your body needs and better control your blood sugar levels
It is also important to note the glycaemic index of the food that you are consuming. It refers to a score, ranging from 1 to 100, which is assigned to a food based on the effect it has on your blood glucose levels.
When you exercise, you are enabling your body’s muscles to use up the glucose present in your bloodstream. This helps lower your blood sugar levels and can also reduce your daily dose of insulin. Exercising regularly can help you avoid several health complications like obesity, heart disease, stroke, etc.
Exercising when you have Type 1 Diabetes can directly affect your blood sugar levels. Hence, it is very important to carefully plan the time and duration of your workouts in order to avoid a spike or dip in your blood glucose levels.
The goal of Type 1 Diabetes management is to bring your blood glucose levels back down to a relatively normal range, where it does not cause any complications. Hence, monitoring your blood glucose levels becomes necessary so that your doctor can devise a treatment plan as per your body’s needs.
Monitoring your blood glucose levels can today be done from the comfort of your home using multiple ways. These ways include using a glucometer, flash glucose monitoring (FGM) system, and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system.
The complications of Type 1 Diabetes are caused by untreated high blood glucose levels. Over time, high blood glucose levels can lead to the following health complications based on the short-term and long-term effects they have on your body.
The symptoms of hypoglycaemia can be managed immediately by drinking juice, chewing on hard candy or taking glucose tablets.
The presence of too many ketones in your blood can turn it acidic and cause symptoms like fruity-scented breath, vomiting, dry skin or mouth, flushing, headache, muscle stiffness, fatigue, etc.
The following table summarises the key differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Present (sometimes insufficient)
Age of onset
Usually in children, adolescents, and young adults
Usually over the age of 45 years
Lifestyle habits, family history, metabolic syndrome, etc.
Onset of symptoms
Oral hypoglycaemics, insulin (in some cases)
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