Diabetes type 1 – Definition, Causes, Risk factors, Symptom, Diagnosis, Diet, Treatment, and Prevention

(Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, juvenile diabetes, diabetes with tendency to ketosis, unstable diabetes, diabetes mellitus type 1, diabetes, type 1)

What is Diabetes type 1

Diabetes is characterized by an increase in glucose above normal level. Glucose travels throughout the body through the blood. A hormone called insulin helps glucose move from the blood to the cells. Once the glucose reaches the cells, it can be used as energy. A problem in the production or use of insulin implies that glucose will not be able to pass to the cells. In this way, glucose will accumulate in the blood.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. This leads to an accumulation of glucose in the blood, also called hyperglycemia. At the same time, the cells do not get the glucose they need to function well. In the long term, the increase in blood glucose levels can also damage vital organs. The blood vessels, the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves are the most affected.

Type 1 diabetes is usually found in children and young adults.

What are Causes Type 1 Diabetes

Our immune system keeps us healthy by fighting and destroying viruses and bacteria. Unfortunately, the immune system sometimes attacks healthy tissues. Most cases of type 1 diabetes are due to the immune system attacking and destroying the cells that produce insulin. These cells are in the pancreas.

At the moment, it is not known why the immune system attacks them. It is believed that some people have genes that predispose them to get diabetes. For these people, certain environmental factors can trigger an attack of the immune system against the pancreas. The triggers are not known, but may correspond to certain viruses, foods or chemicals.

Type 1 diabetes can also appear as a complication of other medical conditions. It can manifest itself in People with type 2 diabetes who no longer produce insulin. Some people with chronic pancreatitis or undergoing pancreas surgery. They can lose the cells that produce insulin.

What are Risk factors of Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is more common among men. It can start at the age of 4 years and reach its peak between 11 and 13 years. Other factors that can increase the likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes include:

  • Family history of type 1 diabetes
  • Belonging to certain ethnic groups, such as people from northern Europe, from Mediterranean countries,
  • African-Americans or Latinos.
  • Advanced age of the mother during pregnancy.
  • The risk increases when there is greater weight at birth.
  • Obesity during childhood.

Other autoimmune disorders, such as

  • Hashimoto's disease.
  • Graves disease.
  • Addison's disease.
  • Pernicious anemia.
  • Celiac.
  • Vitiligo.
  • Cystic fibrosis.

What are Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can cause:

  1. Weightloss
  2. Increase in urine
  3. Excessive thirst
  4. Hungry
  5. Fatigue, weakness
  6. Blurry vision
  7. Irritability
  8. Headaches
  9. Lacking insulin

Your body will need to find new forms of energy. This causes an imbalance in the body called ketoacidosis. It is a serious condition that can cause coma or death. Ketoacidosis can cause:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Drowsiness
  • Abnormally fast and deep breathing
  • Coma
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Breath with fruity smell
  • Fast pulse
  • Low blood pressure

Diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will have a physical exam.

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed based on the results of blood tests and other criteria. These include:

  • Common symptoms of diabetes and a random blood test that reveals a blood glucose level greater than or equal to 200 mgdl (11.1 mmoll)
  • Fasting blood test revealing levels of glycemia greater than or equal to 126 mgdl (7.0 mmoll) on two different days (the analysis is done after a fast of eight hours or more)
  • Glucose tolerance test that reveals a blood glucose level greater than or equal to 200 mgdl (11.1 mmoll) (the test is done after consuming glucose)
  • Glycohemoglobin level (HbA1c) of 6.5% or more (measurement of blood glucose in the last 2 to 4 months)
    mgdl = milligram per deciliter of blood, mmoll = millimoles per liter of blood

Other blood tests may be needed to confirm that diabetes is type 1 and not type 2. These may include:

  • Tests of insulin or C-peptide to check how much insulin the pancreas produces.
  • Tests to determine if there are antibodies that act against the pancreas.

What is Treatment of Type 1 diabetes

The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels as normal as possible. It is important to receive periodic medical attention to prevent or delay complications.

Although diabetes determines that blood glucose levels are very high, treatment can determine very low blood glucose levels. This is called hypoglycemia. It can cause confusion, tremors, anxiety, heart palpitations, among others. If the levels go too low, there may be seizures and loss of consciousness. You and your doctor should plan and adjust the medication and diet to keep the risk of hypoglycemia low.

Also Read:  Adenoma in the Pituitary - Causes, Risk factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention


Injections of insulin replace the insulin that is missing. The amount administered is based on your individual needs and a blood glucose test that you do before and after meals and at bedtime. You will need to take insulin injections two or more times per day. There is a rapid-acting inhalation insulin that can be used by certain people.

You can also use an insulin pump, a device that provides small amounts of insulin during the day automatically.


Amylin is produced in the pancreas along with insulin. People with type 1 diabetes do not have insulin or this hormone. The lack of amylin may be the cause of the increase in blood glucose after a meal in people with diabetes. The drug pramlintide can be used when insulin therapy is insufficient to control blood glucose.


Glucagon can be injected to increase the blood glucose level quickly. People with type 1 diabetes should always have a reserve for emergencies available in case of hypoglycaemia.

If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, consider obtaining a medical alert identification. Thanks to her, others will know that you have diabetes if you can not communicate.

Best Diet for Type 1 diabetes

If you have type 1 diabetes, you should consult a registered nutritionist periodically. Generally speaking, it is better

Follow a well-balanced meal plan that incorporates assorted food groups.
Eat at regular intervals every day. Include a snack when you go to your meal plan. Do not skip meals.
Avoid very refined carbohydrates. This includes sugar or products with high fructose content, such as sodas.

Exercise for Type 1 diabetes

Exercise is recommended as long as blood glucose levels are controlled. Respect the doctor's advice regarding activity levels and changes that may be necessary.

You may need to adjust your insulin or diet dose if you have low glucose levels after exercise.

Measurement of blood sugar

Periodic blood glucose measurements during the day will help you manage your diabetes. This measurement is usually done with a glucose meter. You can also ask your doctor about the continuous glucose monitors worn during the day.

Keep a record of the results to present to the doctor. The treatment plan may change based on the results of the tests. The doctor also uses the blood test of glycohemoglobin (HbA1c) to evaluate your overall glycemic control.

Transplantation of pancreatic islet cells

This is a procedure that is still under study. It involves the transplantation of islet cells from a donor to a person with type 1 diabetes. After transplantation, these new cells can produce insulin. In some cases, people undergoing these transplants no longer need insulin injections.

Artificial pancreas with closed loop system

This device is still under study, in the development stage. It is a continuous glucose monitor (SMCG). This system performs automatic blood glucose controls during the day. From them, insulin is delivered as needed during the day and night. This control system will allow you to keep blood sugar levels within normal values, without the need for testing or injections every day.

Pancreas transplant

Pancreas transplant is recommended if you have

  • Severe nephropathy that requires a kidney transplant
  • Acute diabetic complications or emergencies that can not be prevented with insulin
  • Serious problems due to injecting large amounts of insulin
  • Serious and frequent complications related to diabetes, such as severe recurrent hypoglycaemia


Depression can hinder your recovery and expose you to the risk of other complications. If you have feelings of sadness and hopelessness and have felt disinterested in your favorite activities for at least two weeks, you should call your doctor. Depression is treatable. The doctor can refer you for therapy to help you better manage depression and diabetes.


Currently, there are no guidelines to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Some research is studying the effectiveness of suppressing the immune system. This may be useful in people who are at high risk for type 1 diabetes.

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