Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. It develops when the insulin-producing cells in your body have been destroyed and you can’t produce insulin. It’s not caused by your lifestyle.
Type 1 Diabetes Explained
When you eat your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose (sugar). Carbohydrates are in starchy foods like bread, potatoes and rice. They are also in fruits, some dairy, sugar and other sweet food.
The glucose is taken into your blood stream. Insulin is needed to move this glucose into the cells in your body, so that it can be used as energy. Normally, insulin is produced in the pancreas.
In someone with type 1 diabetes, the autoimmune reaction in the pancreas has killed off the insulin-producing cells. So, they don’t make any insulin and glucose builds up in their blood. We tend to call blood glucose by its other name blood sugar which is easier to remember.
The build of blood sugar leads to lots of symptoms like:
- Feeling thirsty
- Feeling really tired
- Needing to go to the toilet more often
- Losing weight (because the body starts to break down fat for gaining energy).
It’s treated by taking insulin – either by multiple injections or by using an insulin pump. A healthy diet and physical activity are also really important.
Who It Affects
In India there are more than 1,00,000 people living with type 1 diabetes. Most of them are diagnosed between the ages of 9 – 14, but sometimes they are diagnosed as a younger child or as an adult. It’s the most common type of diabetes in childhood.
Will your family be at risk of getting type 1 diabetes?
Most people (85%) who develop type 1 diabetes don’t have any family link to it. But, if your immediate family members have it , the risk is higher than the general population. On average the stats are:
- If a mother has type 1 the risk is about 2-4 percent
- If it’s a father, the risk is about 6-9 percent
- If both parents have type 1 the risk is up to 30 percent
- If a brother or sister has it then the risk is 10 percent. For a non-identical twin 10-19 percent and for an identical twin 30-70 percent.
What’s The Difference Between Type 1 And Type 2
If a person has type 1 diabetes, their body can’t produce insulin at all. People with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin- but not enough or it doesn’t work properly.
Unlike type 1, the risk of developing type 2 is affected by lifestyle among other things.
Type 2 usually develops at an older age than type 1 – over 40 years. But, in Indians, it often appears by the age of 25 itself.
Is type 1 diabetes serious?
The complications can be serious but make sure you are getting the right care in order to reduce the risk of complications.
Is there a cure?
No, but there’s ongoing research into transforming care and treatment, and to help find a cure. As of now, lifelong insulin therapy is the only best option available.