About Type 1 Diabetes
About type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by a poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle. It isn’t caused by anything that you did or didn’t do, and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.
If you have any symptoms of diabetes, you should contact your GP. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, but it’s worth checking – early diagnosis, treatment and good control are vital for good health and reduces the chances of developing serious complications.
Common Symptoms of Diabetes
- Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night.
- Being thirsty.
- Feeling more tired than usual.
- Losing weight without trying to.
- Genital itching or thrush.
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal.
- Blurred vision.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. For reasons we don’t yet fully understand, your immune system – which is meant to protect you from viruses and bacteria – attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, called beta cells.
Insulin is crucial to life. When you eat, insulin moves the energy from your food, called glucose, from your blood into the cells of your body. When the beta cells in your pancreas fail to produce insulin, glucose levels in your blood start to rise and your body can’t function properly. Over time this high level of glucose in the blood may damage nerves and blood vessels and the organs they supply.
This condition affects 400,000 people in the UK, with over 29,000 of them children. Incidence is increasing by about four per cent each year and particularly in children under five, with a five per cent increase each year in this age group over the last 20 years.
What is known is that:
- Destruction of insulin-producing beta cells is due to damage inflicted by your immune system
- Something triggered your immune system to attack your beta cells
- Certain genes put people at a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes but are not the only factors involved
- While there are no proven environmental triggers, researchers are looking for possible culprits, such as viral infections and particular molecules within our environment and foods.
Around 90 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes have no family history of the condition. Although other family members may carry the same ‘at risk’ genes, the overall risk of type 1 diabetes for multiple family members is generally low.