Type 1 diabetes is also called as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It is a chronic condition in which there is no production of insulin by the pancreas. Insulin metabolizes sugar (glucose) and produces energy. In type 1 diabetes, the level of blood glucose (sugar) becomes too high.
Glucose is the main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues. It is obtained from both the liver and the food. Sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and enters the cells with the help of insulin. Liver stores glucose as glycogen and releases only when there is sugar deprivation from food. In case of a diabetic individual, since there is no insulin secretion, the blood sugar levels shoot up.
What are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
Following are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes:
- Increased thirst
- Unintended weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- Cuts and grazes that does not heal
What are the Causes of Type 1 Diabetes
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet identified. It is expected that the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells (islets of Langerhans) in the pancreas. This condition is also hereditary and is passed through genes from one generation to another. Further, individuals who are obese and having a sweet tooth are prone to diabetes.
What are the Complications of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes gradually affects major organs in the body, including heart, kidneys, blood vessels, nerves, and eyes. Maintaining a normal blood sugar level will help reduce the severity of the complications. Some complications of the heart that occurs as a side effect of unbalanced diabetes are coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Neuropathy, nephropathy, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, glaucoma, erectile dysfunction, foot damage, diabetic ketoacidosis, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and preeclampsia in pregnant women are all the possible secondary conditions associated with type 1 diabetes.
Physiology of type 1 Diabetes
After a meal, the digested food passes through the small intestine where glucose is absorbed. This leads to a rise in the blood glucose levels. An increase in the blood glucose level stimulatesbeta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin. Since there is no production of insulin because of the damaged beta cells, the glucose is not metabolized leading to high blood sugar levels. This leads to type 1 diabetes.
How is Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosed?
Type 1 diabetes is tested in the laboratory, where urine samples and blood samples are taken. Urine and blood sugar levels are checked in the respective samples, results of which are used in evaluating the presence of type 1 diabetes.
How is Type 1 Diabetes Treated
Type 1 diabetes has no cure till date. Treatment helps in managing blood sugar levels with insulin, and diet and lifestyle changes. When the blood sugar levels are too high, insulin injection is recommended to control the blood sugar. Once the sugar level decreases to a manageable level, then oral medications are prescribed.
Stem Cells Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes
New treatments and advances in research are improvising the quality of life of people suffering from type 1 diabetes. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy helps patients who do not respond to drug treatment. It lessens the dependence on medications for the treatment. These stem cells have the capability to differentiate into any cell type. The MSCs are differentiated in-vitro into insulin producing beta cells. So in case of therapy for diabetes, the cells are injected to the targeted area, where they colonize adapting the properties of the resident stem cells. These then initiate the lost functions, thereby curing the disease condition.