Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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An autoimmune disorder, Type 1 diabetes causes harm to the cells responsible for forming insulin.

People living with type 1 diabetes must have insulin treatments throughout the rest of their lives in order to stay alive. Despite this, people can lead normal lives if given the correct care.

This article will explore the indicators, sources, and solutions for the illness.

What is Type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an ongoing autoimmune disorder that stops the pancreas from manufacturing insulin.

One of the essential hormones in the body is insulin which is responsible for maintaining the level of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Under normal circumstances, insulin functions in the following steps:

  • Your body breaks down the food you eat into glucose (sugar), which is your body’s main source of energy.
  • Glucose enters your bloodstream, which signals your pancreas to release insulin.
  • Insulin helps glucose in your blood enter your muscle, fat, and liver cells so they can use it for energy or store it for later use.
  • When glucose enters your cells and the levels in your bloodstream decrease, it signals your pancreas to stop producing insulin.

If you aren’t producing an adequate amount of insulin, an excessive amount of sugar will be stored in your bloodstream resulting in hyperglycemia, therefore hindering your body’s ability to utilize the energy from meals. Failure to treat this can have severe adverse impacts on one’s health, and may even result in death. Folks with Type 1 diabetes must take manmade insulin daily to stay alive and have robust health.

Previously, type 1 diabetes was referred to as juvenile diabetes and diabetes requiring insulin.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

The cause of type 1 diabetes has not been pinpointed, but it is not related to behavior like type 2 diabetes is.

Researchers have identified numerous genes that play a role. These genes can be triggered by various environmental influences.

It is common for Type 1 diabetes to appear in youth, and it was commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes in the past, though it can manifest in individuals of any age.

When the illness flares up, the body’s own pancreatic cells, which produce insulin, are targeted. The destruction of these cells takes place quickly, resulting in the body’s incapability of producing insulin.

Without insulin, blood sugar cannot be reduced, resulting in the typical indications of poorly-managed diabetes.

Type 1 Vs. Type 2 Diabetes

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have elevated blood sugar levels, yet their origins differ significantly. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system erroneously assaults normal cells. In the instance of type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly destroys the beta cells situated in the pancreas.

For individuals with type 1 diabetes, their beta cell function is either reduced or absent, and inhalation of insulin is required in order to stay healthy.

Type 1 diabetes is not very common and only constitutes 2-5% of the global population, with only roughly 1 in 300 American people under the age of 18 facing this situation. The form of diabetes, typically seen in childhood or before age 18, is often called “juvenile diabetes” but is officially classified as Type 1.

Type 2 diabetes is much different than type 1. It is a problem that commonly affects older people, though it can show up during the teenage years. Unlike type 1 diabetes, it isn’t an autoimmune disease.

Type 2 diabetes is caused when the pancreas is not able to create enough insulin or the body is not able to utilize the insulin produced correctly. Insulin resistance is the condition that occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly.

Type 2 diabetes does not always require the use of insulin injections to maintain it, unlike type 1. Along with other medications, a lot of which come in the form of pills, type 2 diabetes can be managed. Certain individuals with type 2 diabetes are able to control it solely through changes in lifestyle, without the requirement of medications.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

A person with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes may experience the following diabetes symptoms when the disease has taken hold:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Mood changes

When blood sugar levels increase, the body makes a great effort to reduce the surplus amount of sugar. The reason why there is such thirst and urination is because insulin is not able to be used, so the glucose must be expelled through the urine instead.

Even though a person might be consuming food, it cannot be absorbed, resulting in feelings of hunger and tiredness.

Basically, with type 1 diabetes, the body is deprived of nutrition since it is not able to make use of the majority of what it eats.

If the signs and symptoms are not addressed quickly, the blood glucose could increase to hazardous amounts. This could result in hospitalization for diabetic ketoacidosis.

When a person is suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis, their body will burn fat as a source of energy instead of the typical carbohydrate, resulting in dangerous ketone bodies accumulating.

These ketone bodies will acidify the bloodstream. As a result, new medical treatment will be necessary.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is Type 1 diabetes diagnosed?

Type 1 diabetes is relatively simple to diagnose. If you or your child has symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, your healthcare provider will order the following tests:

  • Blood glucose test: Your healthcare provider uses a blood glucose test to check the amount of sugar in your blood. They may ask you to do a random test (without fasting) and a fasting test (no food or drink for at least eight hours before the test). If the result shows that you have very high blood sugar, it typically means you have Type 1 diabetes.
  • Glycosylated hemoglobin test (A1c): If blood glucose test results indicate that you have diabetes, your healthcare provider may do an A1c test. This measures your average blood sugar levels over three months.
  • Antibody test: This blood test checks for autoantibodies to determine if you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Autoantibodies are proteins that attack your body’s tissue by mistake. The presence of certain autoantibodies means you have Type 1 diabetes. Autoantibodies usually aren’t present in people who have Type 2 diabetes.

Your provider will also likely order the following tests to assess your overall health and to check if you have diabetes-related ketoacidosis, a serious acute complication of undiagnosed or untreated Type 1 diabetes:

  • Basic metabolic panel: This is a blood sample test that measures eight different substances in your blood. The panel provides helpful information about your body’s chemical balance and metabolism.
  • Urinalysis: A urinalysis (also known as a urine test) is a test that examines the visual, chemical and microscopic aspects of your urine (pee). Providers use it to measure several different aspects of your urine. In the case of a Type 1 diagnosis, they’ll likely order the test to check for ketones, which is a substance your body releases when it has to break down fat for energy instead of using glucose. A high amount of ketones causes your blood to become acidic, which can be life-threatening.
  • Arterial blood gas: An arterial blood gas (ABG) test is a blood test that requires a sample from an artery in your body to measure the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood.

Management and Treatment

What kind of doctor treats Type 1 diabetes?

A doctor trained in endocrinology, which deals with hormonal problems, takes care of patients who have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Some endocrinologists specialize in diabetes.

If your kid has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it is necessary for them to go and visit a pediatric endocrinologist.

You should visit your endocrinologist on a regular basis to guarantee your control of Type 1 diabetes is effective. Your insulin needs will change throughout your life.

How is Type 1 Diabetes Treated?

Individuals suffering from Type 1 diabetes require regular doses of artificial insulin on a daily basis so they can survive and stay in shape. They should also attempt to maintain their blood sugar at a healthy level.

The number of factors which have an effect on your blood sugar level mean that managing Type 1 diabetes is a sophisticated and distinctive process.

Three of the main components of Type 1 diabetes management include:

  • Insulin.
  • Blood glucose (sugar) monitoring.
  • Carbohydrate counting.

Insulin for Type 1 diabetes management

There are several different types of synthetic insulin. They all commence to operate at distinct paces, and they remain present in your system for varying durations. You may need to use more than one type.

Some types of inulin are more expensive than others. Consult with your endocrinologist to determine the adequate kind of insulin for your requirements.

The amount of insulin you need throughout the day depends on several factors including:

  • Your weight.
  • Your age.
  • Your physical activity level.
  • The types of food you eat.
  • Your blood sugar (glucose) level at any given time.

In addition to a steady dose of insulin (usually referred to as a basal rate), you will need to give yourself certain quantities of insulin when you eat and to fix excessively high blood sugar levels.

You can take insulin in the following ways:

  • Multiple daily injections (MDI): Injectable insulin uses a vial and syringe. With each injection, you use a syringe to get the correct dose of insulin out of the vial. You can inject the insulin into the fatty tissue of your belly, upper arm, thigh or buttocks. Injections are usually the least expensive way to take insulin.
  • Pen: Insulin pens are similar to injections, but the pen is pre-filled with insulin. The disposable pen needles are usually more convenient than syringes. They can also be a good option for people with low vision.
  • Pump: Insulin pumps are devices that deliver insulin continuously and on demand. They mimic the way your pancreas would naturally release insulin. Pumps deliver insulin through a tiny catheter (thin, flexible tube) that goes in your belly or another fleshy area of your body.
  • Rapid-acting inhaled insulin: This type of insulin (known as Afrezza®) is inhaled through your mouth (much like an asthma inhaler ). It works much quicker than other types of insulin.

The quantity of insulin you require daily will fluctuate over the course of your life and in certain situations. As an illustration, more insulin is usually needed amid puberty, maternity and when steroids are being taken as medicine.

It is thus essential to consult your endocrinologist routinely – normally at least three times a year – to guarantee that your insulin dosages and general diabetes treatment are appropriate for you.

Type 1 Diabetes and Diet

Living with type 1 diabetes can be difficult. It calls for regular injections and pricking of fingers, as well as close monitoring of dietary practices.

Eating has a direct effect on blood glucose levels, so the amount of insulin required will depend on the amount of food consumed.

Carbohydrate counting

Understanding the importance of carbohydrates for people with diabetes is an integral part of their care. Figuring out which foods contain carbohydrates and how many carbs they have.

Starches, fruit, dairy products such as milk and yogurt, as well as candy and other desserts all contain carbohydrates as a major ingredient. Carbohydrates are the type of food that has the biggest influence on blood sugar levels.

A significant amount of insulin is needed for a meal with a high amount of carbohydrates, like pasta accompanied by garlic bread, compared to a meal with a fewer amount of carbs, like salmon with salad. The importance of being precise when measuring carbs is crucial to maintain one’s blood sugar levels.

At first, tracking carbohydrates may appear intimidating, but as it is employed frequently it will soon become second nature. There are also phone applications and manuals that can assist with managing diabetes more efficiently.

Building a balanced diet

Theoretically, individuals with type 1 diabetes can consume any amount of carbohydrates as long as they have enough insulin to offset the spike in blood sugar levels. In spite of this measure that could be sufficient to keep blood sugar attainable, it is still significant to eat a good, balanced diet for optimal wellness.

One of the easiest strategies to enhance dietary habits is to adhere to the diabetes plate approach.

First, visualize a standard plate. Half of the plate should include non-starchy vegetables. Some of these foods could be broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, and carrots.

Selecting a multitude of veggies will give an abundant quantity of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Non-starchy vegetables also have very little carbohydrates.

25% of the plate should consist of protein sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, and eggs. Protein contributes to the construction of muscles and provides the essential components for the formation of many body parts. Most people get enough protein.

The fourth section of the dish should contain carbohydrates like rice, quinoa, corn, potatoes, legumes, and bread.

Carbohydrates do not need to be taken out of a diabetic’s diet; moderating their intake should help keep sugar levels at a healthy rate. Whole-wheat bread and brown rice in their unrefined forms are more beneficial for health than their processed counterparts.

The plate method should include space for a serving of fruit and ideally either water or a low-fat dairy product to drink.


Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition which necessitates sustained medical care and a healthy lifestyle in order to stay well. People with type 1 diabetes need to strive to keep their blood glucose levels regular, yet can have long, vibrant lives as long as they look after the condition.


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