Type 1 Diabetes

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes was once referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes.  It occurs when a person’s immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells.  This results in minimal to no insulin being dispersed into the body.  A buildup of sugar happens in the blood because it cannot be burned off as energy.  Type 1 Diabetes usually develops in adolescence and childhood.  It can occasionally develop in adulthood.

Proper diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes includes blood tests to determine blood sugar levels.  A person may need to fast overnight before taking a blood test.  Depending on any pre-existing condition, certain tests will not produce accurate results.  Your healthcare provider can determine which test is more likely to produce a proper diagnosis.

What are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?

People suffering with Type 1 Diabetes can experience many different symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Constant fatigue and general lack of energy
  • Frequent urinating
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the arms, hands, legs and feet
  • Seemingly unexplainable weight gain or loss

Type 1 Diabetes Causes

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown.

Typically, the condition is linked to the function of a person’s immune system. Genetics plays a role in a person’s development of type 1 diabetes. Exposure to viruses and certain environmental elements – triggers – also play a role whether or not a person develops type 1 diabetes. This occurs when something in a person’s environment tells their immune system to go after their pancreas.

Furthermore, there are definite risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood to develop type 1 diabetes. Contrary to popular belief, poor diet and exercise will not cause a person to develop type 1 diabetes or increase their likelihood of developing it.

The known risk factors and vulnerabilities include:

  • Family history: those with immediate relatives who have type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop it
  • Genetics: the presence of certain genes increase someone’s likelihood to develop type 1 diabetes
  • Where a person lives: type 1 diabetes becomes more prevalent the further away from the equator one is
  • Certain ages: between 4 and 7 years old, as well as 10 and 14 years old, a child is more likely to develop type 1 diabetes. However, it can occur to anyone at any age

How is Type 1 Diabetes Treated?

Type 1 Diabetes is treated with regular insulin injections taken daily.  Many people are required to take multiple daily injections.  Comprehensive meal planning is also necessary.  A patient may be referred to a dietician in order to have assistance with proper planning and categorization of foods the person can eat.

While there is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, ongoing clinical research has allowed people with Type 1 Diabetes to live a normal and even healthy life.  The patient must adhere to proper management of food intake, taking insulin injections properly, monitoring of blood sugar levels, and commitment to regular physical exercise.  Good mental health has also proven to be of critical importance in managing Type 1 Diabetes.  More patients are being advised on the importance of mental health as a contributing factor to positive treatment.

Many patients are encouraged to look at local support groups in their communities.  Type 1 Diabetes affects many people.  Support groups can provide patients with resources and general advice that can contribute positively to their treatment.

Type 1 Diabetes Prevention

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, and there is no known cure for the autoimmune disease. With proper management and maintenance of the disease, complications and symptoms can be prevented.

It is very possible to live a full and healthy life with type 1 diabetes. However, because of the nature of the disease, life-threatening complications are possible; it is crucial that someone with type 1 diabetes monitors their glucose levels and takes insulin shots in order to control and regulate their blood sugar.

Additionally, activities, schedules, and diets will need to be adjusted in order to prevent complications of the disease.

Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
September 10, 2017