Everything You Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes


What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?

Genetics

While type 1 diabetes can be random and not be caused by genetics the probability of developing it does increase if it runs in the family.

If a child is born into a family where type 1 diabetes is present, then their chance of developing it is five percent. However, if type 1 diabetes is not present, it’s a 0.3 percent chance the child will develop it.

As for direct family members, if a father has type 1 diabetes, the likelihood of passing it on is five percent versus a three percent chance if the mother has type 1 diabetes. If a sibling has type 1 diabetes, the chance the other siblings will have it is eight percent excluding the case of identical twins where the percentage jumps up to 50 percent.

Another Autoimmune Disease

Twenty-five percent of people who have one autoimmune disease will develop another one in their lifetime. This could be another factor to take into consideration when accounting probable causes of type 1 diabetes. Most likely this is associated with genetics and having multiple autoimmune syndromes – which is another category in itself in terms of genetic predisposition.

To reiterate, all of these possible causes are speculation, and there is still no specific cause of type 1 diabetes.  Ultimately your body has to be the perfect host for type 1 diabetes to be present, and even then, it rarely occurs.

How to Diagnosis Type 1 Diabetes

In a quarter of the cases, the person being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes will be in diabetic ketoacidosis – high levels of ketones in the body. Ketoacidosis is the body’s last way of trying to getting rid of ketones and calls for immediate emergency intervention.

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Diabetic ketoacidosis starts with dizziness and fatigue and will eventually turn into nausea, vomiting, and fainting. If left untreated, the person affected will slip into a coma and ultimately pass away.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed at a younger, age but anyone at any age can be diagnosed with the condition. It can be genetic, as well as be caused by environmental factors and a possible reaction to certain chemical drugs.

For example, if a father has type 1 diabetes, the chances the child will have it are five percent; if a mother has it, the chances are three percent.

Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

There is only one way to treat type 1 diabetes, and that is by taking insulin. There are two main methods to get into the body: multiple daily injections or insulin pumps. Also, there is a type of insulin which you inhale – Afrezza. However, it is only approved and available in very few countries.

Most type 1 diabetics will be put on MDI for the 1st year of diagnosis, to learn exactly how dosing works and to get comfortable with injections. Once they have mastered MDI, the option of an insulin pump will present itself.

Deciding which form of insulin delivery is best suited for your lifestyle can take some time and experimentation, but finding the one that feels right will have a hugely positive impact on your life!

There are some key aspects of MDI and insulin pumps to consider when deciding which method is best for your lifestyle. Here are some pros and cons to both:

Multiple Daily Injections (MDI)

Being on MDI means there isn’t a ton of room for frequent change in schedule. One or two of the injections taken on MDI contains long-acting insulin, which means it is a big dose that will be used as background insulin all day and night. Because of this, having a routine each day that is somewhat similar is quite beneficial.

MDI is great for active people who dislike being connected to a medical device 24/7. For some professions, being on MDI might be the best options such as someone who works in extreme sports, is a model or stunt person.

MDI is not for people who dislike needles… the name itself is pretty self-explanatory, if you are on MDI, you will be doing multiple injections every day.

Insulin Pump

Having an insulin pump can take away a lot of the headspace that calculating doses for food and corrections takes up when living with type 1 diabetes. It only requires one injection every three days, but once you are connected to an insulin pump, your body is entirely reliant on it to get insulin (you can’t take it off!).

Insulin pumps are great for those who have an abnormal schedule because of being able to adjust the basal (background) insulin. An insulin pump allows one to temporarily increase and decrease basal insulin for any amount of time, which is not possible on MDI.

There are many different kinds of insulin pumps available on the market and which ones are available for you personally is dependant on what country you live in.

Another factor to take into account when deciding if an insulin pump is right for you is your sleep sensitivity. I’m not exaggerating when I say I literally get tangled in my insulin pump tubing when I’m sometimes sleeping. If you are someone who is easily woken up while sleeping, you may want to test out an insulin pump overnight before fully committing. Also, even if you have a tubeless insulin pump (omnipod) the actual site and bulkiness of the device can be irritating to sleep with (I have tried it).

Insulin pumps are overall ideal for people who want more flexibility in their lifestyle and value being able to eat/exercise at any time of the day.

Next page: Type 1 diabetes complications, prognosis, and living with type 1 diabetes advice.

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Abigail DavidAbigail David

Abby is a 24-year-old Vancouver native currently living in Toronto, Canada. Over the past 7 years of having diabetes, she has learned a lot about how to harmoniously coexist (for the most part) with type 1 diabetes. She knows that her blood sugar will never be perfect all the time, but knowing that I have the ability to keep it within her comfortable range, and still live a fulfilling, non-restrictive life, is empowering to Abby.

Apr 17, 2019
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