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An Introduction and Focus on Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin dependent diabetes. It is generally recognized that Type 1 Diabetes is caused by an auto immune reaction, which means the body’s defence mechanism attacks the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. These cells called beta cells produce little or no insulin after the attack.

Insulin is a very important hormone, which helps the body to transport sugar to cells where it is converted to energy or stored for future use. This may explain why people with diabetes complain of being tired as they are not converting sugar to energy because they are producing little or no insulin.
Type 1 Diabetes is also known as insulin dependent diabetes.

Cause of Type 1 Diabetes
We do not fully understand what causes the body to destroy its own insulin cells when you have Type 1 Diabetes. If you are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, you will need insulin for life or until someone comes up with a cure. Type 1 Diabetes is not reversible.

You need insulin for life…..to survive…..so therefore a person with Type 1 Diabetes needs to take insulin injections otherwise they will become seriously ill and can be fatal.

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any stage in life from young babies to middle age and beyond, but is predominantly seen in children and young adults. The onset of Type 1 Diabetes is sudden and a person can become very ill, very quickly. Being diagnosed with Type1 Diabetes has nothing to do with eating too much sugar, or drinking full sugar drinks.   If you come across someone diagnosed with Type 1, chances are they are a slim and healthy, active person so don’t assume they got Type 1 diabetes because of their diet – they didn’t and comments about “too much sugar” can be very upsetting especially for a child and their family.

blood-sugar-testing-device

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes: 

Abnormal thirst and a dry mouth

·         Frequent urination

·         Extreme tiredness/lack of energy

·         Constant hunger

·         Sudden weight loss

·         Slow-healing wounds

·         Recurrent infections

·         Blurred vision

What to do if you suspect any of these symptoms?

Be aware! 
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes can come on very suddenly.   You may think it’s a bad flu.  Take no chances, go to your GP and insist on a Blood Glucose Test.  All GP’s should have a Blood Glucose Meter in their practice.   Bring a morning sample of urine too if you can.

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

Usually diagnosis is made on hospital admission and once treated with insulin, a person will begin to feel much better and symptoms quickly dissipate.
Insulin is a very important hormone, which helps the body to transport sugar to cells where it is converted to energy or stored for future use. This may explain why people with diabetes complain of being tired as they are not converting sugar to energy because they are producing little or no insulin.  Depending on how ill a patient is, Type 1 Patients are usually discharged within a week armed with lots of new information on how to manage Type 1 Diabetes.
There are various regimes including Multiple Daily Injections (MDI) and Insulin Pump Therapy.

People with Type 1 Diabetes check their blood glucose levels using a finger prick up to 8 times a day, sometimes more depending on the day.  So don’t be alarmed the next time you see someone in public “checking their bloods”, it’s part of normal life for them.  You may also witness someone injecting their insulin in public, this too is just a normal part of life for someone living with Type 1 Diabetes.

People with Type 1 Diabetes are encouraged to Count Carbohydrates for all meals and match the total amount of carbs to a set insulin dose which is worked out using a math formula which is specific to every individual.

Living with, and managing type1 diabetes is a work in progress for life, there is no rest from it, no holiday from it, and no cure for it. It’s a lifestyle that must be lived relentlessly in order to stay healthy and more importantly alive.

Also like everyone else in the population, healthy lifestyle choices such as, healthy diet, exercise and for adults, reducing alcohol intake are encouraged.

Just when  someone with Type 1 Diabetes thinks they have it all worked out, along comes something that can cause blood glucose to both rise and fall.”

Some of those things are:
Alcohol, Impaired Digestion, Puberty, Menstruation,
Travel, Irregular Sleep, Menopause, Sports and Exercise, Pregnancy, Stress, Upset, Shock, Heat, Cold, infection, And a host Of other things, life throws at us !

Living with and managing type1 diabetes is a work in progress for life, there is no rest from it, no holiday from it, and no cure for it. It’s a lifestyle that must be lived relentlessly in order to stay healthy and more importantly alive.

The Institute of Public Health’s report Making Diabetes Count (2007) estimated that there were about 143,000 people with diabetes in Ireland (based on in 2005 figures) and predicted that this number would increase by 37%, to 194,000 people, by 2015.

This article has been produced by representatives of “Diabetes T1 Ireland”
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And representatives of “Parents of Children & Teens with T1 Diabetes in Ireland”.