Type 1 diabetes was once called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. This is an incurable disease affecting the endocrine system, in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in young children or adolescents, but this condition can develop at a later age as well. This illness needs to be fully understood so the patient and family members can provide appropriate treatment and support. Type1 diabetes has several concerns and complications that may develop if proper treatment is not followed.
Concerns of Type 1 Diabetes
Although there is no agreement on the actual cause of this disease, genetic factors and the exposure to certain viruses seem to play a large part. Since there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, the patient must learn to handle the effects of this disease on a daily basis. That means monitoring the blood sugar level and taking the correct dose of insulin. If this is not done, the body will start to have adverse reactions. The first sign may be increased thirst and frequent urination because the surplus sugar in the body causes fluid to be pulled away from healthy tissues. There may also be blurred vision since fluid is taken from the lens of the eyes as well. An excessive hunger may be experienced because without the necessary insulin in the body, the muscles and organs lack the energy they need to function. This, in turn, triggers a hunger as the body calls for more food in an attempt to recapture the lost energy. Weight loss may result if the blood sugar isn’t regulated and the fat stores in the body are used to supply energy.
Complications of Type 1 Diabetes
The complications of Type 1 diabetes can be short-range or long term. Short-term complications must be treated immediately because they present the possibilities of seizures or a coma. Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can occur for many reasons like illness, overeating or not taking enough insulin. Besides monitoring the blood on a regular basis, urine should also be tested to watch out for increased ketones, which are toxic acids produced when the cells are starved for energy. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar can happen if a meal is skipped, there has been an increase in physical activity or if too much insulin was taken. All of these situations require immediate and accurate treatment.
Long-term complications develop more slowly but can create life-threatening situations. Type 1 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Increased sugar in the blood for long periods of time damages blood vessels, which leads to nerve damage, especially in the legs. Type 1 diabetes can also interfere with the filtering system of the kidneys, causing irreversible damage.