Diabetes mellitus type 1

Apr 14, 2012 , Zuzana Boučková

diabetes-i.-typu.jpg - kopie
diabetes-i.-typu.jpg - kopie
Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a disease that most commonly affects individuals between the 10th and 20th year of life. Diabetes mellitus type 1 is manifested by hyperglycemia and subsequent fatigue, inefficiency, weight loss, etc. Diabetes mellitus type 1 treatment is possible only by lifelong insulin injection.

Diabetes mellitus type 1

Diabetes is now a relatively common disease that affects children, adolescents and young adults. Diabetes mellitus type 1 occurs more in developed countries, statistics show that the incidence of this disease in the UK for the last 17 years has doubled. However, this type of diabetes consists of only 6% of the total number of diabetics. Diabetes mellitus type 1 has an entirely different cause than diabetes type 2, and it is necessary to treat this disease.

Causes of diabetes mellitus type 1

Diabetes mellitus type 1 affects mainly younger individuals, usually between the 10th and 20th year of life. However, it can occur in young adults, or quite small children. The cause of this disease is a disorder of the immune system, which turns against its body's own cells, thus it is an autoimmune disease. In the case of diabetes mellitus type 1 immune cells attack the so-called beta cells of the pancreas, which are important for insulin production. Insulin is a hormone that has a crucial role in the processing of sugars received from food. In the form of glucose it transports it from the blood into the cells, thus providing them with an adequate supply of energy necessary for its proper functioning. In the case there is not enough insulin in the body, blood glucose levels rise and a condition known as hyperglycemia occurs. This has adverse effects on the processes in the organism and the disease begins to manifest itself.

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus type 1

Typical symptoms of diabetes mellitus type 1 are fatigue, inefficiency, loss of appetite, weight loss, excessive drinking and frequent urination. This is due to the fact that sugar binds water and gets into the urine and thus leads to dehydration of the patient. Also tingling sensations in various parts of the body, blurred vision and in more advanced stages vomiting can occur. Diabetes mellitus type 1 can sometimes be manifested as severe abdominal pain, which may be confused with acute abdominal conditions. In more advanced stages of diabetes a life-threatening condition can occur - hyperglycemic coma. The patient becomes unconscious, breaths deeply and from the mouth can be sensed a typical odor of acetone. Diabetes mellitus type 1 is often discovered by accident in preventive blood analysis.

Complications of diabetes mellitus type 1

Complications of diabetes mellitus type 1 may be acute that come very suddenly and threaten the patient's life, or chronic, from which the patient suffers long term.

Acute complications of diabetes mellitus type 1

Among the acute complications of diabetes mellitus type 1 belong mainly ketoacidotic coma, which is due to increased blood sugar levels, lack of water and minerals, and the rise of ketone bodies in blood. It is manifested by thirst, frequent drinking and urination, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness and this condition can result in a so-called diabetic coma, the patient loses consciousness. This complication can however sometimes be the first manifestation of a yet unrecognized diabetes.

An opposite complication is hypoglycemic coma, which is due to reduced sugar levels in the blood. Headaches, weakness, nausea, blurred vision, even coma can occur. This complication occurs frequently when skipping a regular meal or due to a wrong dose of insulin, and therefore it is most easy to administer sugar orally. Of course you do not serve food or liquids to an unconscious person!

Chronic complications of diabetes mellitus type 1

Among chronic complications of diabetes mellitus type 1 belongs microangiopathy, where are damaged small arteries and therefore also organs such as the kidneys, retinas of the eyes and the nervous tissue. The kidneys gradually lose their function and the patient's condition can lead to dialysis, i.e. replacement with an artificial kidney. Damage of the retina, known as diabetic retinopathy, leads to blurred vision and in the final stages to blindness. Diabetic neuropathy most often affects the nerves of the lower and upper extremities. This leads to feelings of trembling, tingling, burning, but also pain. Affected may also be spinal nerves and organs, which is manifested by abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Another major complication of diabetes mellitus type 1 is called macroangiopathy, which is the damage of large blood vessels by atherosclerotic process, thus popularly known as hardening of the arteries. This process is significantly accelerated in diabetics. These complications often lead to death of patients with diabetes, as ischemic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke develops. In all cases there is lack of blood flow to the tissues. In the lower limbs easily form venous ulcers with possible progression to gangrene and often leading to leg amputation.

Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type 1

The diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type 1 lies in the detection of elevated levels of blood glucose. However, it is imperative that blood taking was performed on an empty stomach. Confirmation of the diagnosis is made by the OGTT test, a glucose tolerance test. It consists in blood taking on an empty stomach, subsequent oral administration of glucose and repeated blood collection in 60 and 120 minutes. This will test whether the body is able to maintain normal blood sugar levels after glucose intake.

Treatment of diabetes mellitus type 1

Treatment of diabetes mellitus type 1 is very difficult and complicated. However, the patient must remember that this disease must be treated for life. Treatment of diabetes mellitus type 1 consists of dietary measures and lifelong insulin injection, since this hormone can not be produced. Insulin is injected under the skin, usually in the abdomen, thigh or other body parts. Insulin is necessary to apply several times a day by injection, or with the so-called insulin pen. The patient should be instructed in advance and trained in the treatment with insulin so he can adjust insulin levels by himself depending on food intake or exercise.

Prevention of diabetes mellitus type 1

At present it is not known how to prevent the occurrence of this disease. Diabetes mellitus type 1 generally occurs more frequently in subjects with family history. Therefore genetics plays a significant role. However it can occur also without such a predisposition. Recent studies point out the frequent association between a history of viral diseases and onset of diabetes. Therefore, it is highly likely that common viral infections in susceptible individuals may somehow affect the immune system, and then turn it against the body's own cells.


Diabetes mellitus type 1 clearly belongs among serious diseases that should not be underestimated, primarily due to the significant number of late complications. However, you can very well affect its course by careful adherence to the prescribed treatment and regular check-ups. For the most part, the development of this disease and its consequences depend on the patient's diligence and determination to do the maximum for his health.

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