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Thursday, November 30, 2023

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Type 1 Diabetes

Most people would never associate diabetes with an autoimmune disease. Because diabetes has to do with only your sugar. Right? Glucose (sugar) levels do play an important role in type 1 diabetes but is not the real culprit.  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that targets one organ unlike some autoimmune disease that attack multiple organ systems. I want to inform you I am not a medical professional and this article should in no way be interpreted as medical advice.

Type 1 diabetes attacks the pancreas by targeting specific cells in the pancreas called beta cells. These cells produce insulin that the body needs to regulate glucose. The immune system mistakes these cells as foreign invaders like bacteria and wages war on them. Once many of these cells are destroyed the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin. Insulin helps cells absorb glucose which regulates glucose (sugar) in the body. Glucose (sugar) gives energy to the cells. Over time this condition can lead to hyperglycemia, which is high blood sugar, that can have lasting complications if glucose levels remain high for long periods of time.

Type 1 diabetes is not to be confused with type 2 diabetes even though they share the same name they are different diseases. The difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 is that type 1 is an autoimmune disease. The cause of type 2 diabetes is still unknown, but it does relate to weight, activity levels, and genetics according to diabetesresearchconnection.org. Both conditions can cause elevated glucose levels, but type 2 diabetes does not destroy the beta cells like in type 1, at least not at first. Type 2 diabetes moves slower and can go undetected for longer. It is also more prevalent in adults and is the more common form of diabetes, whereas type 1 diabetes occurs in children and young adults and is less common.

The physician commonly checks for diabetes as part of routine blood work like the A1C test, random blood sugar test, and a fasting blood sugar test. There are symptoms that can help aid the physician in making a diagnosis or alerting them that there is a problem, and blood tests are needed. Such as increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unintended weight loss, irritability and other changes in mood and behavior, fatigue and weakness, blurred vision, and in younger children bed wetting when they did not have the issue before according to healthline.com.

Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes monitoring blood glucose levels daily at home. Some lifestyle changes can be helpful like, limiting carbohydrates, eating a heathy diet, and getting regular exercise. Also, If the body cannot produce enough insulin the physician will have the patient start taking insulin to help regulate glucose levels in the body. Insulin is a lifelong medication that the patient will need to take on a daily basis maybe even several times a day.

There are many types of insulin that are listed on the Mayo Clinic’s website as well as different methods of getting the insulin in the body.  There is short acting insulin which is the known as regular insulin. Then there is rapid insulin, intermediate insulin, and finally long- lasting insulin. The type of insulin depends on what the what the body needs and the method with which it is introduced into the body. The patient can either inject insulin with a needle or have an insulin pump that feeds insulin as the body needs it.

It is important that the patient keeps a good rapport with their physician and health care team. Here are some ways that can help patients and their family cope with getting a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes as listed on healthline.com. Manage stress levels, the patient needs to be active in their own care, getting support from others, using selfcare, learning as much as you can about the disease. As a fellow autoimmune disease warrior, I can tell you nothing is more important than your support system.

Signed a fellow warrior,

                                                Amy Archibald

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