Type 1 Diabetes

There are two main types of chronic diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2. Both forms of diabetes are classified as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way the body uses digested food to provide energy and aid growth. When you body digests food, it turns that food into glucose (a form of sugar), which is the fuel for the body. The cells run on glucose to give your body the energy it needs to lead a healthy and active life. However, glucose cannot be distributed from the blood to the cells of the body without the help of insulin. Insulin is an active hormone produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas will release the appropriate amount of insulin to move the glucose from the blood stream to the cells and as a result, lower the blood sugar level. A person with diabetes has an elevated quantity of glucose in the blood, this is known as hyperglycemia. It is the reason why the glucose is not being distributed to the cells that gives the classification between type 1 diabetes and type 2. Type 2 diabetes is primarily a condition known as ‘insulin resistance’. In many early stages of type 2 diabetes, the body has plenty of insulin; it just becomes ineffective in the body. With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any of the required insulin to exchange the glucose from the blood to the cells. This results in too much glucose building up in the blood, which will eventually be passed out of the body. So although the body has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting the essential fuel they need. Type 1 diabetes was formerly known as ‘juvenile diabetes’ because it mainly occurs in children and teenagers, but the term has changed because some adult cases have also be diagnosed. Diabetes is a big concern for parents, and it is important to be informed of the warning signs for potential diabetes.
 
Symptoms of Diabetes
  • Increased urination
When there is too much glucose in the blood, urination will occur more frequently. If the insulin is not there, the kidneys cannot filter the glucose back into the blood, so the kidneys will take water from the blood in order to dilute the glucose. This in turn fills up the bladder.
 
  • Increased thirst
When someone has type 1 diabetes excess sugar will build up in the blood stream. The high blood sugar level pulls water from the tissue of the body and this increases thirst ascompensation.
 
  • Intense hunger
Because the insulin is not giving the cells the energy they need, the body will react by trying to find more energy.
 
  • Weight loss
Even though people with type 1 may be eating more due to the intense hunger, weight will still be lost. This is because the body’s cells are not receiving the glucose fuel. So the cells will die and muscle tissue and fat will decline.
 
  • Cuts and bruises take longer to heal
When there is more sugar in the body, the ability to regenerate and heal can be compromised.
 
  • Fatigue
Depriving the cells of glucose will lead to a drop in energy, sleeping longer and general tiredness. If you have suspicion that your child may have type 1 diabetes, consult your regular doctor immediately. Although type 1 Diabetes is incurable, with the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, your child can learn to manage the condition and live a happy and full life. If diabetes goes untreated, then the severity of the symptoms can increase and this can lead to damage of the vessels that supply blood to vital organs. Testing for type 1 diabetes is a simple process and if you have a suspicion that diabetes may be in your family, please consult a professional. The tests are simple, fast and painless.
 
The tests performed to diagnose type 1 diabetes are:
  • A urine testwill be taken to test for high blood sugar levels.
     
  • A blood sample testis usually performed after the urine test to measure blood glucose levels to confirm if the cause of symptoms is diabetes. For younger children, this is usually a finger prick and almost completely painless.
     
  • An insulin test can be done to test the level of insulin in the body.

Type 1 diabetes will show a result of no insulin in the blood.Many children live with type 1 diabetes and are active, content and the signs of the illness are almost unnoticeable. Learning to live with the illness will require closer monitoring of health and diet and administering insulin therapy. By working together with your child and being informed, you can learn as a team to live with type 1 diabetes.