What is Type 1 Diabetes ? By Dr. Kowshik Gupta, Consultant Pediatrician – Endocrinologist
What is Type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease , in which the person concerned does not produce any or only very little insulin. They must therefore inject it to prevent acute metabolic derailments and long-term consequences.
Type 1 diabetes is often already occurring in childhood and adolescence. Approximately 300,000 people in Germany are estimated to have type 1 diabetes. However, there are no reliable figures since diabetes is not a reportable disease in Germany.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system, which primarily serves the defense of pathogenic germs, is directed against the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas and destroys them. The reasons for this are still unclear. As a result, the absence of insulin production often occurs within a short period of time.
The hormone insulin has the task to ingest the sugars absorbed with the food from the blood into the cells, which need it for the energy production. In the case of insulin deficiency, the sugar accumulates in the blood – the blood glucose level rises.
Without insulin intake from the outside, there is a serious metabolic derailment, a ketoacidosis. This can be deadly without counter-measures. In the long term, increased blood glucose levels can also damage the blood vessels, nerves and numerous organs.
What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?
Initially, type 1 diabetes does not cause any discomfort. It is only when the insulin production of the pancreas is already severely restricted, certain typical symptoms can show:
- Strong urge to urinate and increased thirst
- Fast weight loss
- Acetone odor in the air (reminiscent of nail polish remover or putrid fruit)
How is type 1 diabetes treated?
Patients regularly need insulin to regulate their blood glucose levels. Most people inject it using a pen, a pen-like injection device. A minority of patients carry an insulin pump. This is worn on the body and continuously releases a small amount of insulin into the blood. The insulin required for meals can also be delivered by means of a button. The health insurance companies assume the costs for this therapy device in certain cases.
The majority of the affected persons are involved in the treatment of their type 1 diabetes according to the scheme of intensified insulin therapy (ICT ). They inject a long-acting insulin once or twice a day. In addition, there is a dose of fast insulin at meals. The procedure allows a flexible planning of everyday life and therefore has replaced more rigid injection procedures as a standard in diabetic therapy.
In addition to the insulin administration, patients must regularly check their blood glucose and estimate the carbohydrate content of their meals in order to calculate the amount of insulin required. These basic principles are generally learned from the diagnosis in a training session. In children, both parents should necessarily acquire the necessary knowledge for everyday life with type 1 diabetes.
Difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes
In contrast to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of diabetes with around seven million sufferers in Germany, is not the result of an insulin deficiency but a reduced insulin resistance of the body cells ( insulin resistance ). At least initially sufficient insulin is still present, but this does not work properly, so that the sugar accumulates in the blood vessels.
The main causes of type 2 diabetes are hereditary predisposition, overweight, and lack of exercise. While Type 1 diabetes is more likely to develop in younger years, Type 2 diabetes often develops in patients with advanced age. In addition, type 2 diabetes is usually creeping over many years, whereas the autoimmune reaction often occurs much faster in type 1 diabetes.
By Dr. Kowshik Gupta, Consultant Pediatrician – Endocrinologist, Medicentres