Facts About Type 1 Diabetes

By KrisTina | Articles

Aug 14

This autoimmune disease (also called T1D for short) brings upon one’s pancreas to stop with the production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone which enables us to get our energy from the food we consume.

What happens during this disease is that our own immune system attacks the pancreas’ insulin producing cells (called beta-cells), destroying them by mistake.

And while the reasons for such mistaken behavior are not yet completely clear, most scientists believe it is a combination of both environmental factors and genetics that are at play here.

And unlike type II diabetes, the onset of type I has nothing to do with one’s particular lifestyle or diet choices.

Sadly, there isn’t anything one can do to hinder the onset of this disease. And, at least for the moment, there isn’t anything that can be done to cure it. All that’s left is managing it as best as one can.

Who Is At Risk?

As scary as it sounds, T1D can affect both adults and children at any age. It happens rather suddenly, and makes one dependent on insulin injections for the rest of their lives. Not to mention there can be many further complications down the road.

We know this gloomy truth isn’t pleasant to know, but it is the truth. But it’s not like there isn’t hope for a cure in the future.

How One Maintains T1D

It’s all about the careful balancing of one’s insulin doses. This can be done either through injections or pumps. With the first, it takes multiple injections on a daily basis, and with the latter option, it’s an infusion which continues indefinitely.

Either way, this balance must be maintained no matter what daily activities they perform. Their blood sugar must also be checked about 5-6 times a day through them pricking their finger.

And yet, despite all of the careful attention they pay themselves in hopes of maintaining this disease, complications can still arise. For example, too low or too high blood sugar levels, which can be deadly.

That’s why those who have been diagnosed with T1D are so brave, because they overcome these obstacles with each passing day.

Insulin Does Not Mean a Cure

While such infusions or injections are of utmost importance for such a person (they keep them alive), they still by no means represent a cure, nor can they prevent 100% any serious side effects stemming from T1D. Some of those side effects are:

  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Nerve damage
  • Heart attack
  • Pregnancy complications

Warning Signs of T1D

Any of these can occur suddenly:

  • Feeling lethargic or drowsy
  • Feeling extremely thirsty
  • Frequently urinating
  • Sugar in one’s urine
  • Sudden change of vision
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • Heavy and hard breathing
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Unconsciousness or stupor
  • An increase in appetite

And Finally, Some Statistics

  • Over 1,25M U.S. citizens are living with T1D, of which over a million adults (above 20 years of age) and over 200,000 youths (below 20 years of age).
  • In the U.S. alone, 40.000 new cases are diagnosed on a yearly basis.
  • By the year 2050, 5 million Americans are expected to have this disease. This includes 600.000 youths.
  • Between the years 2001 and 2009, there seemed to be an increase of 21% in those under 20 developing this disease.
  • Less than one-third of those diagnosed with T1D here in the U.S. are achieving control over their blood sugar levels.
  • An estimated life expectancy loss of about 13 years is associated with type I diabetes.

Possible Cure and Treatments?

Even if one is diagnosed with type I diabetes, it doesn’t mean they should give up hope. After all, modern medicine and technology are constantly developing.

And there are plenty of researchers, doctors, and scientists out there who are working around the clock to find a proper cure.

Additionally, one’s treatment options are also regularly improving, and one can still lead a normal life despite any difficulties this autoimmune disease can cause.

We need to believe that we will find a way to eradicate this disease (as well as many other serious and non-serious ones) in the years ahead.

After all, one never knows, as there have been plenty of cures which were discovered unexpectedly and suddenly. In the meantime, those who have diabetes need to keep their chin up and lead as actively and normally as they can.

Source: JDRF | Endocrine Web