Understanding Type 1 Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, about 1.25 million Americans live with Type 1 diabetes while an average of 40,000 people is newly diagnosed each year. While Type 1 diabetes is rare (only five percent of people have it) it can lead to serious health issues.
For many, the diagnosis begins at an early age as it’s most commonly detected in children and young adults. The increased awareness of diabetes has created more practical solutions for managing and treating the disease.
Why Do You Get the Disease?
Developing Type 1 diabetes begins when the body is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the body uses to move glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream of the cells, which is needed for energy. Without glucose in the cells, your blood sugar rises, leading to symptoms such as dehydration, weight loss, low energy levels, and other complications with your body including your eyes, heart, and kidneys.
One factor that plays a role in Type 1 diabetes is your genes. Studies have discovered that those who cannot develop Type 1 diabetes lack a genetic coding that is linked to Type 1 diabetes. Those with Type 1 diabetes experience a disturbance in the cells that should produce insulin. When a virus invades the body, the body produces antibodies to fight off the infection. The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) functions to respond to the body’s immune system. Therefore, it is recognized as an autoimmune disease. It is still unknown as to why the immune system attacks those cells.
Type 1 diabetes is equally common in men and women but more prevalent among white races. It can also be diagnosed at any age but most people under the age of 20 find out they have it. If your family has a history with the disease, you are more likely to have it and should be tested early on for proper treatment.
How to Prevent Complications
Working closely with a doctor who specializes in diabetes is your first line of defense. Together, you and your doctor will discuss a plan that addresses your health and its needs. One early prevention method includes consuming a well-balanced diet full of nutritious food such as vegetables, fruit, protein, and healthy fats and oils. Staying active is also essential for preventing and/or managing diabetes. For those who struggle with weight loss, it’s important to find a diet and exercise plan that will help you shed those extra pounds in a manageable and safe manner. Your doctor can also prescribe treatments such as insulin therapy to help manage your blood sugar levels.