CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 1 DIABETES

An individual is said to have type 1 diabetes when his/her immune (body defense) system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which are known to control the levels of blood sugar.

CAUSES OF TYPE 1 DIABETES

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown1.

However, a few factors are considered to be associated with type 1 diabetes:

Genetics:

  • Presence of certain genes can increase your risk of developing type 1 diabetes1.

Family history:

  • If an individual has a family member, (be it a sibling or a parent) with type 1 diabetes, then he/she has an increased chance of developing the same condition1.

Age:

  • The most common occurrences of type 1 diabetes are seen in two age groups, namely 4-7 years and 10-14 years1.

This condition is not due to a poor lifestyle (such as irregular eating habits, lack of exercise, improper sleep timings, and a highly stressful life), but it might get aggravated if such a lifestyle continues for a long period2. It can neither be prevented nor cured; however, it can be well maintained with insulin, medications, and lifestyle modifications2.

Also, type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disorder, wherein the body’s own defense system (immunity) starts attacking the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. However, it’s interesting to note that even in this case, the exact trigger for this autoimmunity is unknown3.

The probable triggers for this autoimmunity are 3:

  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Chemical toxins present in the foods
  • Genetic predisposition

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 1 DIABETES

Compared with adults, the symptoms of type 1 diabetes may show a rapid progression, especially over a few days or weeks.

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes include2:

Excessive
thirst

Frequent
urination

Tiredness and
lethargy

Increased
appetite

Slow healing
wounds

Blurred
vision

Skin infections associated with increased itching

Unexplained
weight loss

Mood swings

Headache

Dizziness

Leg cramps

An individual with type 1 diabetes needs to be very watchful about his/her symptoms4.

Urgent medical attention should be sought if the symptoms of diabetes appear in combination with the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting4
  • Fever4
  • Severe fatigue5
  • Difficulty in breathing5
  • Dryness of the skin5
  • Changes in the mental status that include confusion or issues with concentration5
  • Extreme loss of appetite4
  • Pain in the stomach4
  • A characteristic fruity, chemical smell of the breath that resembles the smell of nail varnish4

These symptoms could be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a dangerous medical emergency associated with type 1 diabetes. It can be life-threatening if medical treatment is not provided immediately.

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