Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high as your body can’t make the hormone called insulin.
Diabetes is defined as a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar to become too high.
Blood sugar, known as glucose, is your body’s primary source of energy and the levels of blood sugar in your body are regulated by insulin.
Glucose is a molecule of sugar that is an important energy source for all living organisms, and most sources of carbohydrates contain glucose.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that controls the amount of glucose circulating in your blood.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This can lead to the body not being able to use glucose in the way that it should.
When you have type 1 diabetes, your body can still break down the carbohydrate from food and drink and turn them into glucose, but there is no insulin available to allow it into your body’s cells. More and more glucose builds up in your bloodstream, which leads to high blood glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. It is usually diagnosed during childhood or adolescence but can also develop in adults.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it is believed it has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. However, researchers are working hard to find what causes type 1 diabetes to develop.
Some known risk factors associated with type 1 diabetes include:
- Age. Although it can occur at any age, type 1 diabetes has two noticeable peaks: Children between 4 and 7, and children between 10 and 14
- Childhood Bacterial and Viral Infections. This type of infection can cause pancreatic lesions that affect the body’s ability to produce insulin.
- Family History. Anyone who has a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has an increased risk of developing it.
- Geography. The incidence of type 1 diabetes tends to increase the further away from the equator you get
- Genetics. The presence of specific genes can indicate an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. The particular genes that relate to type 1 diabetes are called HLA genes, as they can cause your body to attack the immune system that looks after insulin production.
Is Type 1 Diabetes serious?
Type 1 diabetes is a severe condition and one that is lifelong.
If you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and do not manage it correctly, then it may lead to complications in some regions of the body, such as:
- Eyes. High blood sugar can affect the blood vessels in your eyes and your retina. This can cause blurred vision and lead to cataracts, glaucoma or blindness.
- Heart. Prolonged high blood glucose levels may lead to higher blood pressure and an increased risk of blockages and blood clots. Type 1 diabetes also drastically increases the risk of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque build-up), heart attack and heart disease.
- Feet. Circulation can become slower in those with type 1 diabetes, leading to poor blood supply, especially in the feet.
- Kidney. Your kidneys filter your blood and remove toxins from your body. There is a higher risk of developing kidney disease if you have type 1 diabetes.
- Mouth. If you have type 1 diabetes, you are more likely to suffer from bacterial and fungal infections in your mouth and gums.
- Nerves. Nerves are affected by blood supply, and if you have high blood sugar, it can lead to nerve damage and potentially numbness throughout various nerves in your body.
- Sex Life. As type 1 diabetes can affect your nerves, it could mean that the nerves in your genital area become damaged, affecting your enjoyment of sex – especially in men with an increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
- Pregnancy. Poorly managed type 1 diabetes in pregnancy can lead to the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and various congenital disabilities.
- Skin. Diabetes affects your immunity level, so you are likely to suffer from bacterial and fungal infections, which can take much longer to heal than usual.
It is important to remember that these are worse case scenarios – we don’t want to worry you unnecessarily. If you find the right strategy to manage your type 1 diabetes, you can lead a long, healthy and happy life.
If you are worried about diabetes symptoms, get checked as soon as possible. The sooner you know one way or another, the sooner you can do something about it.
The Test2Go Blood Glucose Test can identify whether glucose levels in your blood are higher than usual with a finger-prick blood sample in the comfort of your own home. If your blood glucose test shows high glucose levels in your blood, then seek professional medical advice from your doctor, as only professionals can make medical decisions.