Type 1 diabetes, also called Diabetes mellitus 1, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin, compromising the endocrine system. This type of diabetes is a genetic disorder that was once called "juvenile diabetes" because it most commonly appears in children when they are about 14 years old. After asthma, type 1 diabetes is the second most common chronic disease in children. Although this type of diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults it can occur at any age. Type 1 is the most severe form of diabetes because those afflicted with it are unable to produce insulin on their own and require daily injections of insulin to stay alive. Patients with type 1 diabetes make up about 5 percent to 10 percent of all cases of diabetes with about 13,000 new cases being diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
Genetics -Medical science has increased our knowledge about type 1 diabetes a great deal and several genes associated with the development of type 1 diabetes have been identified by researchers. It is generally believed that although someone may be genetically predisposed to develop type 1 diabetes, an environmental trigger or series of triggers (e.g., toxin, drug, virus) is needed to set the autoimmune process in motion that begins destroying the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It is the destruction of these insulin-producing beta cells that causes type 1 diabetes.
• Toxins in food or the environment -A growing number of people believe that many of the toxins released into our environment, and our food supply (e.g., pesticides, some food additives) serve as a trigger for the development of type 1 diabetes.
• The presence of other autoimmune disorders -Autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease and thyroid disease are believed to raise the risk of type 1 diabetes.
• Ethnic background -The risk of developing type 1 diabetes is greater for Caucasians than for those of African, Asian, Native American or Latino descent. Sardinia and Finland have the highest rate of those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes than anywhere else in the world.
• Viruses - Childhood viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, adenovirus, enteroviruses, cytomegalovirus, rubella, and coxsackie B are believed to be environmental triggers associated with type 1 diabetes.
• Frequent urination (especially at night)
• Extreme thirst
• Extreme hunger
• Unexplained weight loss
• Always tired (Fatigue)
• Blurred vision
• Numbness and tingling of feet
• Wounds that won't heal
So what is the treatment of diabetes? Working closely with a physician is vital for type 1 diabetics because of their increased risks of developing complications related to diabetes. Type 1 diabetics are completely unable to produce insulin on their own so require daily injections of insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control and to stay alive. Insulin cannot be taken orally because it would be destroyed by the digestive system and therefore must be administered by injection or through an insulin pump. It is essential for people with type 1 diabetes to maintain a proper diet, exercise program and closely monitor blood glucose levels because of the risks of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.