If you've just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, here's what you need to know to get started:
Type 1 diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus type 1, juvenile diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition. But what does that mean? What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system is unable to recognise your beta cells as belonging to your body. As a result, it attacks and destroys them – making it an autoimmune disease.
Unfortunately, beta cells are the cells in your pancreas which produce insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone that converts glucose into energy, by moving it from your bloodstream into your body's cells. Without insulin, the glucose in your body can’t be taken into your cells and your blood glucose levels will increase. This can lead to serious health problems.
Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in childhood or adolescence, but it can also develop in adults.
While the exact type 1 diabetes causes are unknown, it’s generally believed that people with an underlying genetic predisposition are more likely to get type 1 diabetes.
However, that’s not always the case. Research has shown that some viruses and environmental factors might also contribute to the appearance of type 1 disease in children and adults.
Here are some of the risk factors associated with type 1 diabetes:
Again though, it’s important to remember that the specific causes of type 1 diabetes aren’t known. And it’s not uncommon for someone with no family history or pre-existing conditions to develop type 1 diabetes, even as an adult.
So even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, if you’re experiencing the symptoms of type 1 diabetes you should get yourself tested for it.
There are several different types of diabetes. The most common are type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and people often get confused between the two.
So, what is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
The main differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the cause, and the level of insulin produced.
Type 1 diabetes is generally thought to be an inherited autoimmune disease, and type 1 diabetics produce either no insulin or very little.
Type 2 diabetes on the other hand typically develops due to lifestyle, and type 2 diabetics still produce a normal level of insulin. However, their cells have lost sensitivity to insulin, and the insulin they produce is not sufficient to keep their blood glucose at a healthy level.
Here are some of the other ways type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different:
Now that you know what type 1 diabetes is, and what causes it, it’s time to think about how to live with it:
Type 1 diabetes is a disease that requires a lot of awareness and control. However, with the right planning and lifestyle choices, you can still lead a healthy and complication-free life.
And it starts with getting informed, staying active, and keeping a positive mindset.
Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition that requires lifelong management. If it's not treated or well managed, type 1 diabetes can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, and blindness. However, with proper treatment and management, people with type 1 diabetes can live long and healthy lives.
Yes, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.
An autoimmune disease is when the body's immune system attacks the body by mistake. In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
This means your body doesn't have enough insulin and can't break down glucose (sugar) as effectively as it needs.
Type 1 diabetes is a noncommunicable disease. This means it can't be transmitted from person to person.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes isn't known, but it's believed that some people have a genetic predisposition for it and that environmental factors might also contribute. It typically develops during childhood or adolescence.
You can't get type 1 diabetes by being in contact with someone who has it.
While it's rare, it is possible to have both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This is known as double diabetes. It happens when a person with type 1 diabetes also develops insulin resistance, which is a characteristic of type 2 diabetes.
However, this is uncommon. Most people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes only have one type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes because it often develops in childhood or adolescence.
In the past, type 1 diabetes was usually diagnosed in children, while type 2 diabetes was often diagnosed in adults. The term "juvenile diabetes" was used to distinguish type 1 from type 2.
However, our understanding of diabetes has grown and we now know that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can occur at any age. As a result, the term juvenile diabetes is used less.
Type 1 diabetes and Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) are both autoimmune diseases that result in high blood sugar levels. However, type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or adolescence, and LADA typically develops after the age of 30. People with LADA may also still produce some insulin, while type 1 diabetics produce little or no insulin. This means that while type 1 diabetics need to take insulin injections, people with LADA may not and may be able to treat their diabetes with oral medications.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after the baby is born. Having gestational diabetes may increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes later in life, but it doesn't turn into type 1.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are 2 distinct types of diabetes and are caused by different things. As such, you can't shift from having one type of diabetes to the other. However, on rare occasions, it is possible to have both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This condition is sometimes known as double diabetes.
Although type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, yes, it's possible to develop type 1 diabetes in your 20s.
The exact causes of type 1 diabetes are unknown, but it's generally believed that people with a genetic predisposition are more likely to get it. This means that if you have a family history of type 1 diabetes, you're at higher risk of developing the disease.
However, not all people with a genetic predisposition go on to develop type 1 diabetes. And some people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes don't have a family history of the disease. Research has also shown that viral infections, toxins and other environmental factors might contribute too.
Having a family history and genetic predisposition to type 1 diabetes means it's more likely you'll develop the disease. However, you're simply inheriting the risk. It doesn't mean you'll definitely get it, and some people who have a family history of type 1 diabetes don't. The level of risk will also vary, depending on the number and type of genes involved, along with other environmental factors.
This isn't quite the same as when a disease appears to "skip a generation", which happens in conditions that are known to develop as a result of recessive single genes.
No, obesity doesn't cause type 1 diabetes. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes isn't known, but it's generally believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Obesity does, however, put you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
No, drinking alcohol doesn't cause type 1 diabetes. It's generally believed that type 1 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
Drinking alcohol can put you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes though.
Because the exact cause of type 1 diabetes isn't yet understood, there's currently no known way to prevent the disease. However, you can decrease your risk of developing complications from type 1 diabetes by following a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
It's also a good idea to get regular health checks, especially if you have a family history of type 1 diabetes, as the earlier it's diagnosed the better it can be managed.
If not well managed, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health complications, so it's not accurate to say that one type of diabetes is worse than the other.
Complications of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and nerve damage.
Descriptions of conditions that seem to be diabetes have been found in ancient Egypt, Greece, China and India. However, our modern understanding of type 1 diabetes as an autoimmune disease developed in the 20th century.
In 1889, German doctors Joseph von Mering and Oskar Minkowski discovered the role the pancreas caused in the condition.
In 1921, Canadian doctors Frederick G Banting, Charles H Best and JJR Macleod discovered insulin.
Autoimmunity was discovered in the 1950s, and in 1955 British doctor Philip Hugh-Jones coined the terms "type 1" and "type 2" diabetes. These terms were popularised in 1976 by English medical researcher Andrew Cudworth, who discovered a link between type 1 diabetes and a specific genetic marker.