With ongoing research, we know more about type 1 diabetes but we still need answers about the basic causes and newer sophisticated treatments. Dedicated research has revealed certain symptoms, causes, and risk factors of type 1 diabetes. Knowing them can help you learn more about yourself or a loved one who has this autoimmune disease.
- The symptoms of type 1 diabetes may appear suddenly. They may include extreme hunger, increased thirst, lethargy, sudden and unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, and blurry vision. Other symptoms of type 1 diabetes may include labored breathing, sweet breath, dry skin, loss of feeling in your feet, and stomach pain that could include nausea and vomiting. Long term complications may occur when type 1 diabetes is not properly controlled. Consult with your physician immediately if you notice any of these signs of type 1 diabetes.
- If type 1 diabetes remains undetected or untreated, long term complications may occur. Eye problems are a common complication for people with type 1 diabetes including blurry vision, retinopathy, dry eye, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Other complications include foot problems from poor circulation, hypertension, neuropathy, kidney disease, periodontal disease, heart disease, stroke, and pregnancy problems such as birth defects or low birth weight. People with type 1 diabetes typically work with a health care team that may include an ophthalmologist, podiatrist, dietitian, diabetes nurse educator, cardiologist, dentist, endocrinologist, and other medical professionals.
- Type 1 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin because of the destruction of beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. The body’s immune system attacks and destroys these beta cells. The body needs insulin to get energy from the foods you eat. With this autoimmune disease symptoms generally develop in a short period of time. While type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and adolescents it can appear at any age. The disease is effectively treated by administering insulin by injection or a pump. People with type 1 diabetes must test their blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter several times a day. This helps them balance the administration of insulin with daily habits such as eating and exercising. It can also help you ward off short-term complications such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) because of the increased knowledge.
- There are not many recognized risk factors for type 1 diabetes, but researchers continue to discover new possibilities. Risk factors may include a family history such as a sibling or parent with type 1 diabetes as well as genetics. Geography might be a factor as the occurrence of type 1 diabetes increases in people who reside further from the equator. Other possible risk factors include exposure to certain viruses such as Epstein-Barr, mumps, coxsackie, or cytomegalovirus. There has also been discussion of drinking cow’s milk early in life and other dietary factors. For example drinking water with nitrates could increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Risk factors currently being researched include having a mother under 25 when she gave birth, having a mother who had preeclampsia while pregnant, getting a respiratory infection after birth, and being born with jaundice.
Ongoing research is helping medical professionals assist patients with type 1 diabetes to live long and healthier lives. Researchers continue to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of type 1 diabetes. As they figure out the facts, people with type 1 diabetes are hopeful a cure will be developed in the future.