Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms: Causes, Cure
Did you know that an adult is estimated to have more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels and nearly 50 miles of nerves? Or, did you know that we’re made up of more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments that team up to help us walk?
Our bodies are complex structures that work daily to keep us as healthy and optimally functioning as possible. However, as finely-tuned as our systems are, sometimes we get ill or come down with conditions like type 1 diabetes. But what is type 1 diabetes? And what are type 1 diabetes symptoms?
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you probably have many questions swirling around your head, and fairly so! You might be wondering:
- What is type 1 diabetes?
- What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?
- What’s the difference between type 1 diabetes symptoms in adults versus kids?
- What causes type 1 diabetes?
- Is there a cure for type 1 diabetes?
We’ll answer these questions for you and more, so let’s get started with the basics.
What is type 1 diabetes?
If you’ve experienced type 1 diabetes symptoms, you likely went to your doctor and received a blood test to understand what’s happening. Alternatively, you may not have been experiencing any type 1 diabetes symptoms but did a blood test for other reasons.
No matter how you got there, you need to understand the type 1 diagnosis to manage it and live a healthy life.
When you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas makes a very little amount of insulin or none at all.
Insulin is a pancreas-made hormone that helps your body use glucose for energy. Glucose is important because it’s a type of sugar found in carbohydrates, such as dried fruit.
After you eat, insulin helps the blood sugar enter the body’s cells to be used as energy. But without insulin, the blood sugar builds up in the bloodstream because it can’t get into the cells.
High blood sugar is harmful and causes many symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes type 1 include increased thirst, feeling tired, blurry vision, and many more.
Main takeaway: Type 1 diabetes is a chronic (long-term) health condition. When you have it, the pancreas doesn’t make insulin properly. Therefore, the body has difficulty managing energy and blood sugar levels.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes causes aren’t entirely known. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), type 1 diabetes is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction.
An autoimmune reaction is when the body mistakenly attacks itself.
This harmful reaction damages the beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for making insulin. This health issue can go on for months or even years before symptoms of diabetes type 1 are noticed.
Other possible type 1 diabetes causes include:
- An environmental trigger (such as a virus).
You can have certain genes that may make you more susceptible to type 1 diabetes, but it’s not guaranteed.
While we don’t know with 100% certainty what causes type 1 diabetes, we do know that lifestyle and diet don’t cause type 1 diabetes, contrary to popular belief.
Main takeaway: Medical experts don’t fully know what causes diabetes type 1. But possible type 1 diabetes causes include an autoimmune reaction, exposure to a virus (and additional environmental factors), or genetics. Furthermore, diet and lifestyle don’t play a role in this health condition.
How can you recognize if you have type 1 diabetes? First, you’ll need to be aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?
Symptoms of this health condition can often be subtle, meaning you might not even realize they’re happening until they further develop or you get a lab test.
However, symptoms of diabetes type 1 can also develop quickly, within weeks or months, and can range from subtle to severe.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
- Blurry vision.
- Dry mouth.
- Excessive thirst.
- Frequent skin, urinary tract, or vaginal infections.
- Frequent urination.
- Heavy breathing.
- Increased hunger.
- Upset stomach.
- Weight loss (even though you feel hungry and are eating).
Some symptoms of type 1 diabetes are similar to those of other health issues, so don’t leave the diagnosis to guesswork. Instead, make an appointment with your physician to get tested. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to bigger, or even fatal, health issues.
Are type 1 diabetes symptoms in adults the same as those in kids?
Type 1 diabetes symptoms in adults are similar to that found in kids. However, children may experience bedwetting when they haven’t before.
According to a medically reviewed article in Healthline by Jacquelyn Cafasso, diabetes can cause someone to wake up to wet sheets. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body isn’t properly processing glucose and can produce more urine than usual, causing bedwetting.
Both adults and children can wet the bed when they have this condition, but it seems to be more widely linked and talked about in regards to kids.
Main takeaway: Symptoms of diabetes type 1 aren’t always easy to notice. But they can also be severe and highly uncomfortable. If you experience any or all of the symptoms listed, find out what’s causing them from the healthcare provider to rule out any other medical conditions. Also, Type 1 diabetes symptoms in adults are similar to those in kids.
What are the risk factors for type 1 diabetes?
According to Endocrineweb, a clinician site, several risk factors can make you more susceptible to developing type 1 diabetes.
Firstly, a specific genetic marker, known as an HLA complex, is believed to increase the chances of developing this health issue. However, having the HLA complex doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get type 1 diabetes. Less than ten percent of those with this complex(es) develop it.
Other potential risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:
- Genetics: If a family member has type 1 diabetes, you may be at higher risk. Endocrineweb explains that if both your parents have type 1 diabetes, the likelihood of getting it increases, but it isn’t for sure.
- Age: The most common age to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is 13-14. But you can develop it younger or well into adulthood, or over 40.
- Background: According to the CDC, white people are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than Hispanics, Latinos, or other races in the USA.
What to do if you think you have type 1 diabetes?
If you think you have type 1 diabetes, or if anything feels off at all, speak to your healthcare practitioner. A doctor can guide you to the right test to take and help you through the process of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-ups.
Also, you can conveniently use our digital healthcare app to contact a physician remotely. Once you download Ravkoo Health, you can utilize the MD option to book and consult with a doctor from anywhere, at any time, allowing you to manage your symptoms of type 1 diabetes better (should that be the case).
The Ravkoo Health App also features a Lifestyle section where registered users can access diabetes prevention support. Also, this app offers you a comprehensive healthcare marketplace to centralize your healthcare management. On it, you can:
- Store electronic medical records.
- Book healthcare provider appointments.
- Fulfill prescriptions.
How to test for type 1 diabetes?
Firstly, if you think you have this health issue, try to stay optimistic. While type 1 diabetes symptoms in adults can be uncomfortable, with knowledge and the right care, you can live a full life.
Secondly, talk with your doctor to understand your situation, and gain knowledge about what causes diabetes. They will fill you in on the tests.
Below are some different options:
- A1C test: This test measures your blood sugar levels over the past couple of months for an average.
- Fasting blood sugar test: After a night of not eating, this test measures your blood sugar level.
- Glucose tolerance test: With this test, you’re given a glucose-containing liquid to measure your blood sugar levels after drinking the substance.
- Random blood sugar test: This test is called random because you can do it at any time without fasting, so it’ll measure your blood sugar level at the time of testing.
So what if you’ve done a test and discovered you have type 1 diabetes? You’ll likely want to know if there’s a cure available.
Is there a cure for type 1 diabetes?
Currently, there’s no known prevention or cure for type 1 diabetes, so people with this health condition require ongoing and daily treatment. The positive news is that when you stick to a plan created by a trusted healthcare team, you’ll generally feel healthy and avoid further complications.
If your child has type 1 diabetes, they’ll need support from you, teachers, coaches, other parents, and healthcare professionals to stay on track.
It can feel overwhelming to receive the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Still, there’s a lot of extremely helpful support, research, and resources to help you manage your blood sugar levels.
So if you’ve recently been diagnosed or know someone who has or has, you’ll constantly want to keep learning and updating your diabetes management info.
What are treatment options for type 1 diabetes?
1. Seek support. Unlike most medical conditions, this kind of diabetes is largely managed by you. However, some healthcare professionals you’ll want to build open communication with are your:
- Primary care physician.
- Registered dietitian.
- Diabetes educator.
There are also several online support groups with others going through the same thing. They share tips and ideas on improving type 1 diabetes management.
Also, ask your loved ones and friends for support and encouragement. Managing type 1 diabetes isn’t going to be without its challenges, but living a life where you’re thriving is worth it!
2. Use insulin. If you have this health condition, you’ll have to take insulin shots, or you’ll need to wear an insulin pump. Both the shots and pump will need to be done daily.
Unfortunately, insulin isn’t available in pill form, which would be convenient. It’s not available as a pill because the acids in your stomach would damage the insulin before it reaches your bloodstream.
Also, your MD will work with you to figure out the most effective dosage and type of insulin for you.
3. Do blood sugar checks. You’ll have to do these checks regularly to know your blood sugar levels. You’ll want to keep your blood sugar levels on target or as close to it as possible. The more on target your blood sugar level is, the easier it is to prevent symptoms and complications.
4. Reduce stress. You’re human, so you’ll get stressed out from time to time, but reducing stress helps you stay calmer and better manage your type 1 diabetes.
Some tips to decrease stress include:
- Exercise daily to clear your mind.
- Sleep well, so you have more energy.
- Ask for help and support.
- Seek online support.
5. Focus on health. When faced with type 1 diabetes, your wellness journey can be filled with new recipes, activities, and support systems.
Healthier lifestyle habits include:
- Researching low-glycemic foods.
- Consulting a dietician to create a meal plan.
- Making informed food choices that don’t spike your blood sugar.
- Avoiding alcohol.
- Learning healthier versions of all your favorite meals and beverages.
- Controlling blood pressure.
- Controlling cholesterol.
To keep you on track, make regular appointments with your doctor, dietician, and pharmacist to discuss how you’re feeling. These helpful healthcare providers can also help your diabetes-management regimen stay current and refreshed by continually giving you new ideas or sharing new information.
If you’ve learned you have type 1 diabetes, congratulate yourself on taking the brave step of getting tested. A diagnosis means that your life and habits will need work to find a system to support your health and diabetes management.