Diabetes is a disease that is marked by the lack of insulin in the human body, or by the factors that interfere with the action of insulin. As the result of such lack and improper action of insulin, the level of glucose concentration in blood increases, causing hyperglycemia (Atkinson, Eisenbarth, & Michels, 2014). The symptoms of diabetes include constant thirst, hunger, exhaustion, and weight loss. Diabetes may be diagnosed after a blood glucose test in an accredited laboratory. Diabetes is considered to be an incurable disease. According to recent statistics, there are 29.1 million of Americans with diabetes (Miller et al., 2015). The physicians distinguish between three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is only diagnosed in women during pregnancy. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is characterized by insulin resistance when the body cannot use insulin properly. As opposed to type 2, type 1 diabetes is less prevailing. Statistically, only 1.25 million of Americans were diagnosed with this disease, as of 2012 (Miller et al., 2015). Type 1 diabetes, previously referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes, is characterized by the absolute lack of insulin because the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells; it is considered as a dangerous disease and requires special treatment.
Definition of Type 1 Diabetes
The fundamental notions in the definition of type 1 diabetes are the beta cell, glucose, and insulin. Beta cells are located in the human pancreas. These cells sense glucose that is received by the human body during food intake and produce the necessary amount of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps to process glucose into energy. The immune system of a person with diabetes, however, does not recognize beta cells as useful ones and thus destroys them. Without beta cells, the human body does not have insulin, and glucose stores in the blood, causing various problems with the eyes, nerves, cardiovascular system, and kidneys (Holt & Kumar, 2015). To avoid these problems and to control the level of sugar in the blood, the person should take medications that supply the deficiency of insulin. Previously it was believed that type 1 diabetes affects only children and adolescents. However, recent studies have shown that people of all ages may be diagnosed with this disease. Still, there are some regularities concerning the age and even the gender of individuals with type 1 diabetes. It was found that type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children 5 to 7 years old and more commonly affects boys and men (Atkinson et al., 2014). The global statistics shows that type 1 diabetes is most common in Finland and Sardinia and is the least prevalent in China, India, and Venezuela. The incidence of type 1 diabetes may be explained by environmental influences and genetic predisposition (Atkinson et al., 2014). The number of people affected by this disease has steadily increased, and analysts believe that if the present rate of growth does not change, the number of individuals with type 1 diabetes will double over the next decade.
Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis
To diagnose type 1 diabetes and to prescribe the necessary treatment, one should consider the symptoms and the results of the blood glucose test. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes may develop over several weeks and include constant thirst, hunger, exhaustion, and weight loss. All these symptoms and casual blood glucose higher than 11.1 millimoles per liter, or fasting blood glucose greater than 6.1 millimoles per liter, indicate the development of type 1 diabetes (Holt & Kumar, 2015). There are cases when it is difficult to give the right diagnosis since the symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are quite similar, but the new technologies and methods of blood glucose measurement allow for correct diagnoses.
Type 1 Diabetes Treatment
The treatment for type 1 diabetes includes healthy eating, drug administration, and glycemic control. It is important to ensure that the daily dose of carbohydrates does not exceed 150 grams (Holt & Kumar, 2015). After the medical examination and the blood glucose test, a physician prescribes the necessary type and dose of insulin. The number of daily injections may vary from two to four, depending on the stage of the disease. There are different ways and devices that allow for insulin consumption, such as insulin “pens” or syringes, insulin pumps (portable device with a cannula inserted into a vein), and inhaled insulin (Jacobson et al., 2013). To ensure the elimination of symptoms and the prevention of the possible complications of type 1 diabetes, physicians insist on the measurement of blood glucose being done by patients themselves. Such glycemic control is exercised with the help of a finger pricking device and a blood glucose meter (Lind et al., 2014). Nowadays, scientists are successfully attempting to combine the insulin pumps and the glucose measurement devices to provide a useful gadget that will allow for simultaneous glycemic control and medication taking (Breton et al., 2012).
Type 1 Diabetes Care
Type 1 diabetes is a disease that requires proper care. If neglected, it may lead to severe complications, such as heart attack, stroke, narrowing of the arteries, high blood pressure, nerve damage, kidney damage, cataracts, glaucoma, skin and mouth conditions, and foot or leg amputation (Atkinson et al., 2014). For this reason, the patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes should receive the necessary care that includes the establishment of the correct diagnosis, initiation of treatment, education leading to patients’ independence, optimal diabetic control, and screening of possible complications (Holt & Kumar, 2015). Various diabetes centers provide these services. The referral to a diabetes center is advised for all children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, for those who are diagnosed with hyperglycemia, and for women during their pregnancy months. Apart from the medical treatment, the diabetes centers inform the patients of the nature of their disorders and the ways to fight against them, thus helping them to become relatively independent from the medical centers.
Type 1 Diabetes Prevention
Scientists agree that type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. However, there are numerous studies devoted to prevention or delay of the disease. It was found that a child with a mother with type 1 diabetes has an increased risk of 1.25% of developing this disease (Atkinson et al., 2014). With such a small figure, the genetic predisposition for type 1 diabetes cannot be considered as an essential factor in the disease development. However, it serves as the starting point of studies, which focus on the individuals with a genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. As the result of these studies, it has been found that dietary modifications in infancy, such as avoiding early introduction of solid foods, may reduce the risk of the development of type 1 diabetes.
Currently, physicians emphasize the graveness of type 1 diabetes, for it cannot be prevented and completely cured and can lead to severe complications if it remains neglected. People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes suffer from a lack of insulin, a hormone that extracts glucose from the blood and turns it into energy. Without constant insulin injections, the body does not receive the necessary energy, and a person experiences such symptoms as thirst, hunger, weakness, exhaustion, and weight loss. To avoid possible complications that can damage the cardiovascular system, vision, nervous system, etc., a person diagnosed with type 1 diabetes should control the blood sugar level; keep to a particular diet, counting the number of carbohydrates; take insulin, and consult a physician. Although it is believed that type 1 diabetes is an incurable disease, scientists are now attempting to find a method that will help to prevent or at least to delay the onset of this disease.
Atkinson, M., Eisenbarth, G., & Michels, A. (2014). Type 1 diabetes. The Lancet, 383(9911), 69-82.
Breton, M., Farret, A., Bruttomesso, D., Anderson, S., Magni, L., Patek, S.,… & Toffanin, C. (2012). Fully integrated artificial pancreas in type 1 diabetes. Diabetes, 61(9), 2230-2237.
Holt, T., & Kumar, S. (2015). ABC of Diabetes. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Jacobson, A. M., Braffett, B. H., Cleary, P. A., Gubitosi-Klug, R. A., Larkin, M. E., & DCCT/EDIC Research Group. (2013). The long-term effects of type 1 diabetes treatment and complications on health-related quality of life. Diabetes care, 36(10), 3131-3138.
Lind, M., Svensson, A. M., Kosiborod, M., Gudbjörnsdottir, S., Pivodic, A., Wedel, H.,… & Rosengren, A. (2014). Glycemic control and excess mortality in type 1 diabetes. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(21), 1972-1982.
Miller, K. M., Foster, N. C., Beck, R. W., Bergenstal, R. M., DuBose, S. N., DiMeglio, L. A.,… & Tamborlane, W. V. (2015). Current state of type 1 diabetes treatment in the US: updated data from the T1D Exchange clinic registry. Diabetes Care, 38(6), 971-978.