Out of all the chronic medical conditions, diabetes has to be one of the most mainstream ones out there. Most people are familiar with type 2 diabetes, which is a form of insulin resistance and may be caused by factors such as obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, though research is still ongoing regarding the exact cause of the disease.
According to Tandem Diabetes, “The medical name is diabetes mellitus (DM). Among the more commonly known types of diabetes are prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), and MODY (maturity-onset diabetes of the young).” But if there is type 2 diabetes, then there must be a type 1, right? In type 1 diabetes, the patient’s pancreas can’t produce any insulin.
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3 Important Facts About Type 1 Diabetes
1. It’s commonly known as “juvenile diabetes”
This is because type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in children and teens. Unlike type 2 diabetes, which usually manifests in late adulthood when the pancreas begins to fail due to lifestyle, type 1 is an autoimmune disorder with a strong genetic component. In an individual with type 1 diabetes, their systems produce antibodies that damage pancreatic cells. Once enough damage has occurred, they will begin to show symptoms such as rapid weight loss, extreme thirst, bed-wetting, and fatigue. These symptoms often present quickly, but they can be resolved just as quickly with insulin after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. In some cases, adults have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as well.
2. There is no cure
Instead, insulin must be administered to the patient to keep symptoms at bay via injection or pump. It’s also important to monitor blood sugar levels daily and follow a healthy diet to keep glucose levels in the target range. Because many people with type 1 diabetes are children, education, self-monitoring, and family support are just as important as insulin when it comes to managing the disease into adulthood. Fortunately, it’s a common disease with a good outlook, and there’s a lot of type 1 diabetes information and communities to be found online. Even though there is no cure, current research may contribute to doctors being able to develop a cure in the future.
3. Uncontrolled type 1 diabetes can lead to other complications
In the short term, failing to manage diabetes effectively can cause hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. In hypoglycemia, when blood sugar falls below the target range, the individual may experience shakiness, sweating, or dizziness, which can lead to confusion or even seizures if they don’t consume sugar or carbohydrates right away. In hyperglycemia, the individual may become irritable, feel an increased urge to urinate or have blurred vision, in which case they should administer insulin to lower their blood sugar. In the long term, uncontrolled diabetes will cause damage to the eyes, nerves, and circulatory system, which is why early detection and management are key. Type 1 diabetes is a serious, lifelong disease, but it’s still possible to lead a healthy, fulfilling life after being diagnosed. Being proactive is the best way to avoid long-term complications. The most important aspect of diabetes management is controlling blood sugar levels by following a clean diet, exercising regularly, monitoring blood sugar every day, and keeping in communication with your healthcare team.