Are you suffering from Type 1 Diabetes? Are you aware that diabetes is the fastest growing chronic metabolic disorder in the world today and that you are not alone? It is like a gigantic spider spreading its ferocious tentacles in our modern society. Whether you belong to a low, middle or high-income group, young or old, diabetes has taken all in its dreadful clutches. Some are suffering from type 1 diabetes and some from type 2. This blog shares information on Type 1 Diabetes- their causes, symptoms and how to manage it successfully.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
In simple words, type 1 diabetes is caused by lack of hormone insulin. It means your body is not producing sufficient insulin to ingest the glucose (sugar) acquired from the food you eat. It is essential for the body to break down the starches and sugar from your daily diet called glucose and utilize it as a fuel to energize your internal organs. However, in type 1 diabetes this procedure fails to take place, and the sugar gets directly mixed into the bloodstream.
The pancreas produces insulin in the body. The Pancreas contains two significant hormones-insulin and glucagon that regulate blood sugar. Pancreas needs to perform the vital responsibility of delivering insulin to maintain sugar and salt levels in the body. When the pancreas fails to produce insulin, it results in type 1 diabetes.
Causes of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, and hence it is also known as ‘juvenile diabetes.’ It is also referred as ‘insulin-dependent diabetes’ as the child’s body does not produce insulin at all.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes remains a mystery. But in most patients, the body’s immune system that fights against various ailment unintentionally destroys the insulin-producing Beta cells in the pancreas. As a consequence, the sugar enters the bloodstream instead of getting converted into energy to vitalize the body.
Other factors that lead to Type 1 Diabetes in children can be anyone from the following:
- Genetic reasons: If anyone in the family, parent or sibling has Type-1 Diabetes, it increases the chances of inheriting the same.
- Viral infection: Exposure to certain viruses may lead to the destruction of the auto-immune cell thereby increasing the risk Type 1 Diabetes.
- Nutrition and diet: There are no pieces of evidence to prove dietary causes, but intake of cow’s milk at infancy stage can be one of the reasons. Hence, medical experts strongly recommended. Also, an introduction of cereals in baby’s diet at an early stage may lead to juvenile diabetes.
Symptoms of Type-1 Diabetes
It usually takes over a few days or week to show the signs of Type-1 Diabetes. Hence it is utmost important for a mother to notice any one of the following changes in her child’s daily pattern.
- Urinating frequently – If your child feels the urge to urinate often especially during nights, it is a sign to watch out. The Kidneys are trying to flush out excess sugar from the blood and to do that they have to get rid of more water. More the water, more urine is generated.
- Feeling de-hydrated – Often there is a feeling of dryness in the mouth, and you are forced to quench it by drinking lots of water. Also, increased urination leads to losing enough water making you feel thirsty all the time. It is like a vicious circle that just keeps moving in circular motion.
- Sudden loss of weight – This usually happens due to dehydration and all the sugar getting lost in urination. Your child may be eating more than usual but not feeling satiated can be a sign of glucose in the blood.
- Increased hunger pangs – In Type-1 Diabetes, most of the sugar calories are not ingested in the body and are released in urine. As a result, the body is deprived of essential salts and carbohydrates leaving you hungry very often.
- Feeling lethargic – You may feel tired and sluggish due to increased hunger pangs that refuse to subside. The body is not getting the necessary nutrients to charge the system as most of the calories are lost in frequent urination.
- Sweet fruity breath – If your child’s breath smells sweet and fruity, it could be due to excess sugar in the blood.
Options to manage Type 1 Diabetes
At present, there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, and it usually affects people under the age of 20. However, the good news is that people suffering from Type 1 Diabetes have managed to overcome it and live a long healthy life. So let us find out the options available to counteract this metabolic disorder.
All those who are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes have to take insulin injection. Your doctor will mention significant timings for insulin to react in your body:
- “Inception” is the time before the insulin reaches your bloodstream and begins to lower your blood sugar.
- “Climax” is the time when the insulin performs the task.
- “Extent” is the duration of how long the insulin works.
Your doctor may begin with two injections per day and gradually increase to three to four shots a day depending on how the body responds. He will also train you in how to inject insulin from the vial.
Another alternative is Insulin Pump Therapy. It is a small gadget that stores insulin and is attached to your body through a long tube with a needle inserted under your skin. Most people inject it into thigh, buttocks or stomach. The mechanism works quite efficiently with the pump allowing the insulin to flow continuously into your bloodstream. You can monitor the flow of insulin as and when required. Children too can use this device but under parents supervision.
Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet
The amount of insulin taken has to be equalized with the right quantity and quality of snacks and meals. Specific food items will increase blood sugar, and some will neutralize it. The best option is to chalk a proper meal plan. The three vital nutrients viz. carbohydrates, proteins, and fats have to be taken in the right quantity. Care has to be taken to make proper food choices from primary food groups that will enrich the body with essential vitamins and minerals for healthy growth, especially among children. You can draw a meal plan in connivance with your doctor or a nutritionist for optimum benefits.
The duration of the meal also plays a vital role in maintaining sugar levels. Too much gap between the meals raises the level of sugar in your bloodstream. Doctors recommend eating healthy food after every two hours to prevent fluctuations in sugar levels.
Monitor your sugar levels at regular intervals
Checking your blood sugar on a routine basis is a must for a diabetes patient. It will help you to understand whether your insulin injections and meal plan are harmoniously working. It is recommended to keep a glucose meter always to monitor your sugar levels at least three to four times a day. Subsequently, a monthly visit to your GP or doctor is necessary and self-medication without medical supervision is a strict no.
Keep yourself fit with daily exercises
Any physical activity plays a crucial role in maintaining sugar levels. Children have a variety of choice to keep them physically active like playing outdoor, swimming, riding a bicycle or adopting a sports game like football, cricket, badminton, etc. Adults too can too opt for various sports games, join a club/gymnasium or merely go for long walks. Yoga is highly recommended for people of all age groups to achieve total wellness including controlling blood sugar.
Diabetes is not a disease, but a lifestyle disorder without a choice and scientists across the world are striving hard to find a remedy for it. It may be tomorrow or maybe in the next decade, but one day a solution to eradicate this disorder will undoubtedly emerge. You do not have diabetes because you ate or you overeat sugar. A person with diabetes should not be stressed or feel ashamed or guilty about the condition, as life is full of pleasant and unpleasant surprises. Just adopt a positive outlook and continue to live your life with joy and happiness. Kindly share your thoughts if you agree.