Living with Type 1 Diabetes
According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults (approximately 80 people per day) are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the United States, and is one of the most costly chronic diseases (JDRF, 2013, para. 5). The more severe form of diabetes is type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas, but the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them (Diabetes Research Institute Foundation[DRIF], 2013. Para. 2). People often do not realize how deadly and complicated type 1 diabetes can be; therefore, educating the public about symptoms, complications, and treatments can genuinely help the public towards a positive outcome.
The process that destroys the insulin-producing beta cells can be long and insidious, at the point when insulin production bottoms out; however, type 1 diabetes usually appears suddenly and progresses quickly (University of Maryland Medical Center [UMMC], 2011, para. 3). Warning signs of type 1 diabetes include: increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue, if not treated a person can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma (Cooke, D., 2010, p. 11). Type 1 diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of the symptoms seem so harmless. Recent studies indicate that early detection of the symptoms can help decrease the life threatening complications of type 1 diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2013, para. 2). Knowing the most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes, plus being aware of the warning signs could save many lives, and avoid dangerous consequences.
With so many symptoms to be aware of, there is always a caution for complications. Although insulin allows a person with type 1 diabetes to stay alive, it does not cure the disease, or prevent the development of serious complications, which can be many and varied (JDRF, 2013, para. 1). High blood sugar levels eventually damage blood vessels, nerves, and organ systems in the body. The top five complications include cardiovascular disease, hypoglycemia, nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy (JDRF, 2013, para.2). Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease is the most serious problem for a diabetic; making it more than twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke then a person who does not have diabetes (Cooke, D., 2010, p. 4). Nephropathy is a slow deterioration of the kidneys and kidney function which can eventually result in kidney failure; however, it is one of the most common complications where one third of every type 1 diabetic develops it (JDRF, 2013, para. 4). Neuropathy, or nerve damage, affects more the 60 percent of people with type 1 diabetes, and can range from slight inconvenience to major disability and even death (JDRF, 2013, para. 5). Retinopathy is the most common and serious eye-related complication and can lead to blindness, which is why it is important to have regular check-ups with an eye doctor (JDRF, 2013, para.6). With so many risks of deadly complications, there are several ways to manage them; by visiting a doctor regularly, taking control of blood glucose levels, exercise, and nutrition.
Treatments and lifestyle changes are important to any diabetic. A person treats type 1 diabetes with insulin injection or has an insulin pump that is directly connected to them through the skin. The challenge with this treatment is that it is not possible to know precisely how much insulin to take; therefore, the amount is based on many factors including, food intake, exercise, stress, and general health (DRIF, 2011, para. 9). The best way for a diabetic to take care of their health is to work with a health care team to keep the blood glucose, blood pressure, and