Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes develops when the pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin injections are necessary to treat Type 1 Diabetes. (Also known as Juvenile Onset Diabetes)

Type 1 Diabetes occurs in about 10-15% of all cases of diabetes. It usually occurs in people under the age of 30, but can happen at any age.

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the bodys own immune system attacks and destroys the islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, and, since these cells produce insulin, this attach reduces the level of insulin in the blood. Diabetes develops when there is too much glucose in the blood. Or, to be more precise, diabetes occurs when the body is unable to regulate the level of glucose in the blood, resulting in too much glucose being present.

This process may take several years, and it is thought that a virus or chemical may trigger the attack by the immune system in people who have a particular genetic make-up. Only a small number of people carry the genes that leave them liable to developing Type 1 Diabetes.

For sufferers of Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin and therefore the glucose in the blood can no longer enter the muscle or be used by cells in the body. The consequence of this is a rapid build-up of glucose in the blood stream.

The kidneys attempt to compensate for the elevated level of glucose by passing excess glucose out of the body with the urine. To remove the excess glucose, additional urine is produced, but this quickly depletes the bodies reserves, causing the sufferer to become very thirsty.

Another consequence of the inability of the body’s cells to use glucose, is that the body uses and breaks down fat as an alternative energy source. A by-products of this fat breakdown are chemical compound called ketones. If the level of ketones in the blood stream rises too far, then they can cause illness that is so serious that it is considered a medical emergency.

Ketones are produced when the body is burning fat to get energy. This happens naturally, of course, if we are exercising to lose weight. However, if it happens too much too fast, it is not natural.

Moderate or large amounts of ketones in your body are very dangerous. They upset the chemical balance of the blood. Ketones in the blood can lead to a serious medical condition called Ketoacidosis, also known as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).

DKA is life threatening and involves having to go to hospital to be rehydrated and monitored while the ketones in your body are reduced to a safe level. Many people with Type 1 Diabetes never have an episode of Ketoacidosis.

The onset of Type 1 Diabetes can be quite rapid. An early symptom is a rapid and unplanned weight loss over several weeks.