Type 1 diabetes may also be known by a variety of other names, including the following:
insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)
There are two forms of type 1 diabetes:
idiopathic type 1 diabetes - refers to rare forms of the disease with no known cause.
immune-mediated diabetes - an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system destroys, or attempts to destroy, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Immune-mediated diabetes is the most common form of type 1 diabetes, and the one generally referred to as type 1 diabetes. The information on this page refers to this form of type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the US. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, but can start at any age.
The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it is believed that genetic and environmental factors (possibly viruses) may be involved. The body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells of the body to provide energy.
When glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood, depriving the cells of nutrition. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections and regularly monitor their blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes often appears suddenly. The following are the most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
high levels of sugar in the blood when tested
high levels of sugar in the urine when tested
extreme hunger but loss of weight
nausea and vomiting
extreme weakness and fatigue
irritability and mood changes
In children, symptoms may be similar to those of having the flu.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Type 1 diabetes may cause the following:
hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, sometimes called an insulin reaction) - occurs when blood sugar drops too low.
hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) - occurs when blood sugar is too high, and can be a sign that diabetes is not well controlled.
ketoacidosis (diabetic coma) - loss of consciousness due to untreated or under-treated diabetes.
Complications that may result from type 1 diabetes include:
neuropathy (nerve problems)
Specific treatment for type 1 diabetes will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history
extent of the disease
your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
expectations for the course of the disease
your opinion or preference
People with type 1 diabetes must have daily injections of insulin to keep their blood sugar level within normal ranges. Other parts of the treatment protocol may include:
appropriate diet (to manage blood sugar levels)
exercise (to lower and help the body use blood sugar)
careful self-monitoring of blood sugar levels several times a day, as directed by your physician
careful self-monitoring of ketone levels in the urine several times a day, as directed by your physician
regular monitoring of the hemoglobin A1c levels
The hemoglobin A1c test (also called HbA1c test) shows the average amount of sugar in the blood over the last three months. The result will indicate if the blood sugar level is under control. The frequency of HbA1c testing will be determined by your physician. It is recommended that testing occur at least twice a year if the blood sugar level is in the target range and stable, and more frequently if the blood sugar level is unstable.
Advances in diabetes research have led to improved methods of managing diabetes and treating its complications. However, scientists continue to explore the causes of diabetes and ways to prevent and treat the disorder. Other methods of administering insulin through inhalers and pills are currently being studied. Scientists are investigating gene involvement in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and some genetic markers for type 1 diabetes have been identified. Pancreas and islet cell transplants are also being performed.
© 2014 Main Line Health