Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a special form of diabetes mellitus that occurs because of autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not fully understood, ant the great majority of people suffering with this disease are otherwise healthy. However, the disease is fatal, unless it is treated with insulin. This actually means that this illness became treatable in 1921, when the insulin was discovered. Without proper treatment, diabetes mellitus causes various health complications such as cardiovascular disease, chronic renal failure, and retinal damage. A lot of treatment options are available, and they usually combine insulin therapy and lifestyle modifications.
Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes
In most of the cases, signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes appear suddenly and often include frequent urination and increased thirst. This happens because accumulated glucose in the blood pulls fluid from the tissues. Patients are usually very hungry; their appetite is increased since there is not enough of insulin to supply the cells with energy. This way, patients feel hungry, even if they are having regular meals. However, even if they eat a lot they may lose weight and feel constantly tired. When the blood sugar levels rise to high, patients may experience blurred vision.
Treatment for type 1 diabetes
As already stated, patients suffering from this type of diabetes, need insulin therapy to survive. There are many different types of insulin, usually grouped as rapid-acting insulin, long-acting insulin and intermediate options. Patients will administer insulin into the body by using injections or insulin pump infusions. There is no way to take insulin in the form of a pill or tablet, since stomach enzymes interfere and make it ineffective.
Insulin injections are easy to use. They are shaped like an ink pen, and their cartridge is filled with insulin. The injections have a fine needle and the patient may use them daily at home, without any pain and discomfort.
An insulin pump is a device, which is worn outside of the body. Insulin pump consists of a pump, a disposable reservoir for insulin, and a disposable infusion set. The patient fills the pump with insulin and attaches the reservoir to the infusion set tubing. The pump is then attached to the infusion site and programmed to dispense specific amounts of rapid-acting insulin automatically.
Treatment may also include various medications, which may be used to slow the movement of food through the stomach, or to prevent heart and blood vessel diseases.