Have you been getting fevers and colds nowadays more often than other days? Chances are that you are catching an autoimmune disease such as Type 1 Diabetes.
This article discusses Type 1 Diabetes, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Keep reading to know more.
What is An Auto-immune Disease?
Have You been getting sick lately just because you didn’t care for yourself? Now you’re caught up in a number of infections or viruses.
Your immune system that usually works to destroy the invading bacteria, due to all these infections has now mistakenly started to destroy the insulin cells produced by the pancreas.
The cells in our body are two types:
- Those that carry oxygen i.e. red blood cells
- Those that protect our body against microorganism i.e. white blood cells
White blood cells make up the immune system in our body and protect us against microorganisms.
In an autoimmune disease, our immune system mistakenly attacks our body. The function of the immune system is to normally guard against germs like bacteria and viruses.
When it senses these invaders, our immune system attacks these cells of bacteria and viruses to save and protect our body.
While in an autoimmune disease, our immune system mistakes part of our body as foreign particles. To protect our body it releases proteins called antibodies to fight the invaders.
In some autoimmune diseases, the immune system targets the organs. For example, type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas while systemic lupus erythematosus affects the whole body.
Why the Immune System Attacks the Body?
Doctors have not yet been able to identify why the immune system attacks the body however, some people are more likely to get an autoimmune disease than others.
A study conducted in 2014 states that women get the autoimmune disease at a rate of 2 to 1 compared to men.
However, some autoimmune diseases are in certain ethnicities for instance lupus affects more African Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians.
Autoimmune diseases, like lupus and multiple sclerosis, are genetic.
Some of the common autoimmune diseases are:
- type 1 diseases
- rheumatoid arthritis
- multiple sclerosis
- inflammatory bowel disease
- Addison’s disease
In this article, we will discuss type 1 diabetes.
But first, let’s discuss the role of the pancreas and the hormones it produces.
The pancreas is present in the abdomen of the body. In addition to its digestive functions and producing bile, it produces two important hormones i.e. insulin and glucagons.
Beta cells are the type of cells found in the pancreas that secrete and synthesize insulin and amylin.
Moreover, beta cells make up 50-70% of the cells in your body islets
These two hormones are crucial for the normal regulation of glucose, lipids, and protein.
Insulin is a small protein that affects carbohydrates metabolism, fat metabolism and protein metabolism and growth.
Insulin tells the cells in our body, to take in glucose from our bloodstream. As a result, glucose levels go down.
Disorders Caused By Glucose
If the process of reregulation of blood glucose doesn’t work properly it might cause a problem with blood sugar level.
Diabetes refers to a group of diseases. In case you have diabetes or pre-diabetes you’re body would use all produced insulin and glucagons in higher or lower concentrations.
There are two types of diabetes;
Type 1 diabetes: It is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and is caused due to lack of insulin secretion.
Type 2 diabetes: it is also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and is caused by decreased sensitivity of target tissues to the metabolic effect of insulin.
This insulin sensitivity is often known as insulin resistance.
In both of these types, the metabolism of all main food is altered. As a result, blood glucose concentration increases, cell utilization of glucose lowers and utilization of proteins and fats increases.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease in which the cells in the bloodstream that make insulin are destroyed. Therefore the body is unable to make its own insulin.
As mentioned above, insulin is a hormone that helps our body’s cells use glucose for energy. When our cells have enough energy, the muscle tissues store the extra glucose in the form of blood sugar.
In case, our body runs on low energy the muscles and tissues release this extra glucose into the bloodstream.
Too much glucose circulating in our bloodstream system can cause both long-term and short-term problems.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
The following are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
-If you feel, a sudden or excessive hunger and thirst.
-If you feel your entire line of sight or parts of your vision is blurred.
-You feel fatigued.
-Frequent urination and dramatic weight loss.
Some people might also develop, ketoacidosis which is a complication of diabetes.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis: This is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called Ketones.
The symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis are:
- rapid breathing
- dry mouth and skin
- flushed face
- Vomiting and stomach pain
Anyone whose either or both of the parents has type 1 diabetes is at increased risk of it.
The presence of certain genes in our bodies indicates the increased risk of developing this disease.
Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age but it is often noticeable in:
- children between 4 and 7 years old
- children between 10 and 14 years
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Diagnosis
The common blood sugar levels of a person are as follows:
- Before taking a meal: 70 to 130mg/100ml
- After the meal: less than 180mg/100ml
- Before exercise (if taking insulin): 100mg/100ml
- Bedtime: 100 to 140mg/100ml
- Fasting: less than 100mg/100ml
Keeping in view the symptoms you face, your doctor or healthcare provider will conduct the following tests to diagnose type 1 diabetes for newly diagnosed patients.
Glycated Haemoglobin (A1C) Test
This blood test indicates blood sugar levels for the past two to three months. The higher your blood sugar levels the more hemoglobin you will have with sugar attached.
An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes.
A random blood sugar test taken at a random time can indicate the disease. This test is often repeated to confirm it.
As mentioned in the chart above, if any person has a blood sugar level greater than the normal values, then they are prone to it.
After an overnight fast, a blood sample is taken. If:
- the blood sugar level is less than 100mg/dL, it is normal
- the blood sugar level is from 100 to 125mg/dL, then it is considered prediabetes
- if it is 126mg/dL then the person has diabetes
If a person is diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor may run blood tests to check whether the person has type 1 or 2 diabetes.
These blood tests are also taken to see if type 1 diabetes autoantibodies are present in the body.
In the case of newly diagnosed diabetes, the treatment for type 1 diabetes is very simple. It is stated below:
- taking insulin
- counting calories such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
- monitoring of blood sugar more frequently
- including and eating healthy foods in your diet
- daily exercise
- maintenance of a healthy weight
The main goal to achieve is to keep in check the blood sugar level and keeping it as close to normal blood sugar level as possible.
People who have type 1 diabetes are in need of lifelong insulin therapy. moreover, your health care provider will recommend using any of the 4 types of insulin, they are:
- regular short-acting insulin
- rapid-acting insulin
- insulin acting intermediately (NPH)
- long-lasting insulin
An example of short-acting insulin is Humulin R
A rapid-acting insulin is insulin glulisine (Apidra)
An example of insulin acting immediately (NPH) is Novolin N
A long-lasting and acting insulin is insulin glargine (Lantus)
As insulin can not be taken orally, it has to be taken either by an injection or an insulin pump.
You can take certain steps to avoid complications like nerve damage, damage to blood vessels, and Hypoglycemia.
These are as follows:
Learn all you can about diabetes from your door or health care provider and manage your symptoms.
Avoid smoking as it can increase the risk of developing blood pressure.
Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under check.
Take care of your teeth and pay attention to your feet as any reduction in the blood flow can damage the nerves in your feet.
Signs of Having Trouble
Despite working hard to keep our type 1 diabetes in check, there is an increased risk of developing certain complications. Some troubles may arise as well.
When our blood sugar levels drop below normal, hypoglycemia occurs.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia may include:
- rapid or irregular heart rate
Your blood pressure may rise due to many reasons such as eating too much or eating the wrong types of food etc.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia are:
- frequent urination
- increased thirst
- difficulty in concentrating
Blood Vessels and Diabetes
Blood vessels are an important part of your circulatory system as they carry oxygen, glucose, and insulin to every part of your body.
An increase in blood sugar decreases the elasticity of the blood vessels in your body and can cause to narrow down and impeding blood flow according to American Diabetes Association.
Moreover, it can lead to a reduction in the supply of blood and oxygen, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and damaging large and small blood vessels.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic and autoimmune disease. Moreover, it cannot be reversed.
It is greatly influenced by genetic factors and triggered by environmental factors.
Genes and outside factors contribute to causing type 1 diabetes in people.
There may be many lifestyle changes but one should always take care of their health and hygiene.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease. People with type 1 can live a long and healthy life if they take proper care of their diet, sugar levels etc.
In case you have a family history of diabetes, then you should monitor your blood sugar levels daily, take a proper diet, and avoid starchy food and excess carbohydrates.
If you have diabetes then you should take proper meals after regular intervals.
Moreover, you should also increase your physical activity to maintain blood sugar levels.