By: Nikki Nies
Diabetes is an extensive, complicated disease. Health care professionals needs to have a better understanding on not only the treatment options, but the underlying mechanisms of diabetes.With diabetes complications interrelated with other health problems, there’s a definite need for Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE), who have gone through additional training and courses to better articulate the problems associated with diabetes.
Previously known as juvenile diabetes, as it is more commonly diagnosed in young children and adolescents, nowadays, type 1 diabetes is commonly known as insulin dependent. With type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and requires external insulin to compensate for the deficient amount produced in the body. Type 1 diabetes contributes to 5-10% of all diabetes cases worldwide.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy for daily activities. Without conversion to glucose, insulin builds up in the bloodstream causing problems with the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys.
Direct causes of type 1 diabetes is unknown but can includes genetics, geography–the farther away from equator tends to increase risk of type 1 diabetes, early consumption of vitamin D rich milk may be linked to type 1 diabetes, being born with jaundice, a child who’s mother is 25 years or younger when child’s born, having a mother that has preeclampsia during pregnancy,a respiratory infection just after birth and/or exposure to certain viruses.
- Weight Loss
- Blurred Vision
- Extreme Hunger
- Increased Thirst
- Frequent urination
Common tests used to diagnose diabetes include checking one’s hemoglobin A1C, a oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), fasting plasma glucose test and a random or causal plasma glucose test.
American Diabetes Association (ADA) Diagnostic Criteria for Diagnosing Diabetes
|Fasting Plasma Glucose||<100 mg/dL||100-125 mg/dL||126+ mg/dL|
|OGTT—2 hr post glucose rich beverage||<140 mg/dL||140-199 mg/dL||200 mg/dL or greater|
|Casual or random plasma glucose and symptoms||200 mg/dL or greater|
|A1C||<5.7%||5.7-6.4%||6.5% or greater|
There is no “instant” cure with type 1 diabetes, but it is manageable. Constant monitoring of blood sugar levels decreases risk of complications and increases one’s quality of life. The earlier one develops type 1 diabetes and lives a life of uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk of further complications.
As stated, treatment is “life long” including regular insulin injections, exercise, eating healthy foods, educating oneself on diabetes, monitoring blood sugar and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Heart and blood vessel complications: includes coronary artery disease with chest pain, heart attack, stroke, narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure
- Nerve damage (aka neuropathy): excess sugar can cause damage to the walls of capillaries that nourish nerves; can cause numbing, tingling, burning or pain in extremities; damage to nerves in gastrointestinal tract can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation; can cause experience erectile dysfunction
- Eye damage (aka retinopathy): diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels in the retina; may lead to blindness, cataracts and/or glaucoma
- Foot damage: can be due to poor blood flow; if left untreated, can lead to infection and the need for amputation
- Osteoporosis: diabetes may lead to lower than normal bone mineral density–>osteoporosis
- Skin and mouth complications: Diabetes may lead to gum, bacterial or fungal infections
- Pregnancy complications: with high blood sugar levels, can increase risk of miscarriage, stillbirths and/or birth defects; if a pregnant women has uncontrolled diabetes, it may lead to ketoacidosis, retinopathy, preeclampsia and/or pregnancy induced high blood pressure
- Hearing problems
Type 1 diabetes is not preventable, but long term complications are. Yes, the constant monitoring of blood sugar levels may sound like a hassle, but do you really want to struggle with additional complications? My guess is no. So, if you’re living with type 1 diabetes, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take care of yourself.