Type 1 diabetes results from an attack of the body’s immune system on the beta cells in the pancreas. The pancreas is a small banana shaped organ that produces insulin. Insulin regulates the levels of blood sugar in your blood stream and cells and is a hormone – it is really the hormone that triggers fat storage.
Your immune system helps you defend your body from viruses, bacteria and other invaders. Like in Arthritis, where the body’s immune system turns on its self, people with type 1 diabetes are attacked by their own immune system. The result is a lack of insulin because the attack disables or destroys the beta cells. Most people have a complete lack of insulin, but others may experience a severe reduction in insulin levels. Due to the lack of insulin, type 1 diabetics must obtain insulin from another source – like injections.
Type 1 diabetes is usually recognized during childhood and is alternatively called juvenile onset diabetes. Some kids who have an infection or urinary tract disease tend to get this disease. One of the main symptoms to look for is the fruity smell on the breath – this happens because the body breaks down fat due to the lack of insulin to properly use sugar. The fat breaks into acid compound called ketones.
The role of insulin is to unlock the cell doors and allow various nutrients into the cells. The main function is to aid the transport of glucose from the blood stream to the inside of the cell. Your body’s cells use glucose as the main energy source.
Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas in response to a rise in blood sugar levels. After you eat food, the body digests it in the stomach and it enters the small intestines where any glucose is absorbed into the blood stream. The rise in blood sugar levels sends signals to the pancreas to release small amounts of insulin.
Under normal conditions, the insulin would slowly reduce the amount of blood sugar. However, in type 1 diabetes, there is NO insulin to even start the process. So, the blood sugar continues to rise because the beta cells in the pancreas simply do not function. As the blood sugar rises, your cells are starved of energy and start to consume other nutrients like fat in order to function. Ultimately, you can become hyperglycemic where your blood sugar levels are very high.
Some common signals that can alert you and others to this serious condition are:
-Dehydration – The body will attempt to eliminate the excess sugar from your body through urination. This causes large losses of water and can result in dehydration.
-Weight loss – As you consume more food, the food simply gets processed and then the body eliminates the excess sugar through urination. Instead of gaining weight, you lose both water weight and start to burn off fat stores.
-Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – The body breaks down its fat stores when the cells are starved of glucose. When fat breaks down, ketones are formed that are used for energy. The ketones also increase the acid level in the blood stream as they increase in concentration. Ketoacidosis is the condition where high blood sugar, dehydration and increased levels of acid all exist. This is a life threatening situation, so seek immediate medical aid.
-Other complications of diabetes – Due to high levels of blood sugar, many other health complications can arise in people with diabetes. The nerves and small blood vessels can be damaged over time and cause problems with the kidneys, eyes and overall