Type 1 diabetes was formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes because the disease is usually diagnosed before the age of 30. Type 1 diabetes is most frequently discovered during adolescence but can also infrequently develop in adults. If a person has a sibling or parent with Type 1 diabetes, they are at a greater risk of developing the disease themselves.
There are certain warning signs that you may have or be at risk to develop Type 1 diabetes, including:
- Ongoing thirst
- Hungry all the time
- Urinating frequently
- Inexplicable loss of weight
- Severe fatigue
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you should discuss it with your physician immediately to rule out diabetes.
If you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, you may experience a myraid of emotions ranging from anger to depression to denial. Although diabetes is quite serious, many people have active, enjoyable lives for years by controlling the disease.
When you have Type 1 diabetes, you have to have insulin delivered into your body through an injection or a pump. Because of this, Type 1 diabetes is often referred to as insulin dependent diabetes. Often diabetics are also required to take other medications to control their blood pressure and cholesterol level.
People with Type 1 diabetes need to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels to ensure they are not in danger. Diabetics need to eat a well-balanced diet that doesn't include fatty foods and sugary snacks to keep their cholesterol level down. Regular exercise is also an integral part of maintaining optimum health as a diabetic by helping to regulate circulation and blood pressure.
Diabetics have lowered levels of saliva so there is an increased possibility of tooth decay. Additionally, sore or irregularities of the feet and vision problems can be aggravated or caused by diabetes. Diabetics may also suffer from anger, depression or denial as a result of their condition. Because there are multiple health checkpoints for diabetics to handle, they often have a team of treating physicians and specialists to properly monitor the disease and offer support, including:
- treating physician
- diabetes educator
- eye doctor
- nurse or nurse practitioner
- social worker
- mental health counselor
- family and friends
By having a team of people to assist in monitoring their condition, diabetics have adequate care and assistance to rewarding and active lives despite their serious condition.
It is essential for a Type 1 diabetic to have a team of treating professionals, as well as to carefully monitor their own condition every day. Diabetics can use a monitor at home to check their blood glucose levels and an A1C test should be conducted regularly. An A1C test reveals your blood glucose levels over the past three months with a goal of getting below "7".
Because of the nature of diabetes, those suffering with this disease are at a greater risk for certain other ailments, such as:
- Heart disease or stroke
- Eye problems that make it difficult for you to see and blindness can even occur
- Nerve damage that causes your hands or feet to feel numb and in some cases, people even have a body part amputated
- Extremely dry skin or slow healing of wounds and bruises
- Erectile dysfunction for men
- Gastrointestinal difficulties
- Frequent infections
- Fatigue and irritability
- Increased risk of gum disease and resulting loss of teeth
- Nerve damage, known as nephropathy
- Kidney problems that could result in the kidneys shutting down
There are also conditions that are specific to Type 1 diabetics but they can be prevented with proper monitoring and control of the disease. These conditions include:
- Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar
- Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
- Ketoacidosis, high level of ketones or acid in the blood, which can lead to a diabetic coma
- Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS), usually seen in older folks who have Type 2 diabetes but can also occur with Type 1, where blood sugar levels rise and pass through your urine, causing frequent urination and possible dehydration, seizure, coma or even death
- Celiac disease, a reaction to eating gluten, that damages the lining of your small intestine
- Hemochromatosis, a genetic disease that can cause "bronze diabetes"
- Frozen shoulder, formally called adhesive capsulitis, which makes moving your shoulder difficult or impossible
Taking insulin and medications on a strict schedule, eating right, exercising, monitoring blood glucose levels daily and having an adequate support team of professionals is necessary to ensure the continued well-being of a Type 1 diabetic. If you experiences frequent urination, nausea, vomiting, odd smelling breath, fever, infections, sores, dry skin, dry mouth, shortness of breath, confusion or fatigue you should contact your doctor immediately to rule out serious problems.
When you are a Type 1 diabetic, you need to constantly monitor your blood glucose levels, ensure your blood pressure and cholesterol are low and administer insulin and medications on a daily schedule. Because of the nature of this disease, proper planning can help to make you feel more comfortable in any situation.
When a diabetic gets sick, it can cause your blood glucose level to soar. By making a plan of action for when you get ill, you gain greater control over your life and your condition. You may want to discuss whether you should get a flu or pneumonia shot with your doctor, since these conditions can be increasingly dangerous for folks with diabetes.
A type 1 diabetic is insulin dependent and should always have at least three days of supplies on hand for unexpected emergencies such as hurricanes, terrorist threats or any other reason you may have to evacuate an area quickly. Even in a dire emergency, a diabetic must continually monitor their condition and administer the necessary insulin and medications to control their diabetes. On the other hand, ff you are planning to travel for pleasure, discuss it with your doctor and make sure you have enough diabetic medication and supplies to last the length of your trip.
Finally, it is natural to feel angry or depressed sometimes about having diabetes. Sometimes people are even the victims of discrimination at school or work because of diabetes. It is important to remember that diabetes can be controlled, you can have a long and happy life and there are many professionals to help you monitor your condition to feel better. By minimizing stress and taking proper care of yourself with diabetes, you can be at your best every day.