Type 1 Diabetes

Posted by admin On August - 12 - 2010

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, meaning that the body cannot regulate blood-glucose levels on its own.

A normal, healthy body will keep glucose levels within a range of 4 – 7 mmol/L (the measurement used in the UK) by using a range of hormones.

Insulin is the hormone that transfers glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to be used for energy. In type 1 diabetes blood-glucose levels go outside of the normal range because there is either insufficient or a total absence of insulin. When blood-glucose levels are too high the body will attempt to remove the excess glucose from the blood in any way it can.

This leads to a chain of events including the following:

The body will try to get rid of the excess glucose by pushing it out in the urine – resulting in the need to go to the toilet more often
Because more urine is being passed there is increased thirst
Because the cells aren’t getting the energy they need there will be tiredness and eventually exhaustion
Because the body still needs energy it will start to break down fat stores so there will be weight loss
If this continues for any length of time there will be a build up of ketones which are toxic to the body and can cause the breath to smell ketotic (like pear drops), stomach pains and ultimately loss of consciousness
The common signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes are:

More frequent urination
Thirst
Tiredness
Weight loss
Ketones

Onset of these symptoms is quite rapid, over days and weeks rather than months, although the process of the damage to the insulin producing cells in the pancreas may have taken months or years to develop.

For more information please check out JDRF.

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