You or a loved one just found out that they’re a diabetic and was directed to this website to learn more. On this website there will be information about what may have caused you to receive diabetes, what occurs in your body that causes you to have diabetes, both long and short term consequences, and much more. This blog will mainly be about all of the information that has to do with type 1 diabetes. My name is Lyra Akin, and I’m a endocrinologist which is a doctor that specializes in diagnosing and treating hormone imbalances and problems by helping restore the normal balance of hormones in the body. My job includes helping people with diabetes and I have made it my goal to educate anyone and everyone about this disease. So continue on to all the various other blog posts to learn more about diabetes and all its many aspects.
Long term consequences are complications that have developed over many years and all have to do with how blood glucose levels can affect blood vessels. If your blood glucose levels aren’t controlled damage can be done to your body’s blood vessels over time. However, controlling your blood glucose levels carefully can help you avoid any of these long term consequences. So there are two types of complications done to your blood vessels: microvascular complications, damage to small blood vessels and macrovasular complications, damage to big blood vessels.
First, lets start off with the microvasular complications. Small, damaged blood vessels don’t deliver blood as well as they normally should so that usually leads to other problems having to do with your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. With your eyes, cataracts and/or retinopathy can develop with retinopathy, damage to the retina, being more common. In order to avoid these problems keeping your blood glucose and having annual dilated eye checkups are important. Then also with microvascular complications comes kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy, which can lead to dialysis and kidney transplant. Again poorly controlling your diabetes is what will eventually lead to kidney failure since they are then unable to clean your blood like normal. To prevent yourself from getting this illness, you should get tested every year for microalbuminuria, a condition that’s an early sign of kidney problems. This test measures how much protein is in your urine and when your kidneys start having problems, they release too much protein.
Finally, nerve damage that happens for the same reasons as all of the other damage is called diabetic neuropathy. Your blood vessels are supposed to “feed” your nerves, but with your blood vessels damaged, your nerves then also become damaged. There are many different types of diabetic neuropathy such as: peripheral, autonomic, proximal, and focal. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of nerve damage, and it most often affects the nerves going to the feet. This type is also the most serious because the sore on people’s feet can be infected, which can then spread and if left untreated you may need surgery to stop the infection. Other symptoms of this type includes: losing sensation in your feet, pain, weakness, and tingling.
Lastly, the macrovascular complications which is mainly when plaque builds up over time in your blood vessels which can lead to a heart attack. Again the importance of managing your diabetes needs to be stressed in order to prevent heart disease as a result. Other things that everyone, not just diabetics, should like keeping your blood pressure under control, paying attention to you cholesterol, and not smoking.
These are the main long term complications associated with type 1 diabetes and it cannot be stressed enough that all of this comes down to whether or not you control your blood glucose levels. If you make good choices, stay healthy, and manage your diabetes well then you will have a very unlikely chance of ever having to deal with any of these complications.
There are many short term consequences, but lets start off with something we know a little bit about. First, there is diabetic ketoacidosis, which I briefly talked about in a previous post. Diabetic ketoacidosis is when the body runs out of insulin that lets glucose into cells to be used for energy and starts to use fat instead. This condition is normally seen more in type 1 diabetics rather than type 2, but it can still happen to either. It is also normally seen as a way for people to find out they have diabetes by being diagnosed with this, but can also happen to a person who has been a diabetic for a long time if they don’t take care of their blood glucose levels. This condition develops with the body running out of insulin and you can’t use glucose. Then without the glucose to use as fuel the body uses fat instead to get energy. After the fat is broken down, ketones are released into the blood and when there are too many of them in the blood, the blood becomes acid.
Some symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis aren’t very different from the normal diabetic symptoms and include the following: frequent urination, extreme thirstiness, abdominal pain, weight loss, cold skin, confusion, weakness, and a fruity smell on breath which is the smell of ketones being released. This condition must be treated as soon as it is confirmed you have it and there are a two ways for a person to check if they have this. They can first check their blood glucose level and if it is above 250mg/dl its possible they have diabetic ketoacidosis. Then secondly, they can use a ketone strip to test their urine for ketones which can be found at your local pharmacy and doesn’t need a prescription. If the strip turns deep purple, then there are too many ketones in your body and you most likely have diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition, if left untreated, can lead to a person passing out, going into a coma, and ultimately, dying.
Another short term consequence is hypoglycemia, which is when there are low amounts of glucose in the blood. This ailment develops when there’s too much insulin in the blood, which means that you’ve taken too much insulin or haven’t properly planned insulin around meals or exercise. There are many other possible causes of hypoglycemia that includes certain medications and alcohol, which keeps the liver from releasing glucose. To avoid getting this illness, you should do the following: don’t eat too few of an amount of carbs, don’t skip meals, don’t exercise too hard, and don’t drink a lot of alcohol. Some symptoms of hypoglycemia include: rapid heartbeat, sweating, paleness of skin, anxiety, numbness in fingers, toes, and lips, sleepiness, confusion, headache and slurred speech. Hypoglycemia has three levels: mild, moderate, and severe. If it is treated while in the mild or moderate, stages then more serious problems can be prevented, but when it is severe going into a coma can occur and even death. However, a person simply has to check their blood glucose levels to check if they have hypoglycemia by checking for very low glucose levels.
There are many more little short term consequences, but these two are the main ones that are associated with type 1 diabetes and type 1 diabetics need to be aware of.
Symptoms of both types of diabetes are the same and include the following: extreme thirst or hunger, frequent urination, drowsiness, increased appetite, fatigue, sudden weight loss, sudden vision changes, sugar in urine, fruity odor in breath, heavy or labored breathing, and stupor or unconsciousness. Others also include numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, loss of feeling in the feet, dry, itchy skin, slow-healing sores, increased rate of infections, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains which are seen in cases where the disease develops quickly. These are all not only symptoms, but are also side effects of you not properly maintaining your diabetes if you are a diabetic.
Another side effect is when the body doesn’t have insulin to let glucose into its cells and the ability to use that glucose for energy, which makes the body start to break down fat as an alternate source of energy. This action results in high levels of ketones (toxic acids) in the blood and is a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition may also cause some of the side effects spoken about above like dry skin and mouth, stomach pain, and fruity smell to breath along with the inability to keep fluids down, shortness of breath, and flushed face.
Along with these symptoms and side effects, there are also other short term and long term consequences that may affect a diabetic. However, that’s for another blog post.
Type 1 diabetics don’t have a specific diet that they have to follow, but they can use the same diet that everyone should follow to be healthy. This diet includes cutting out much of the healthy fat like saturated fats out of their diet since these fats can raise your chance of heart disease. Now this is especially bad for diabetics because they already have a big chance of getting heart disease so with the added chances gained from unhealthy fats their odds would be way higher than the average person. Also, getting enough fiber is very important because it can help control your blood sugar. So getting about 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day is a good amount. This means that high-fiber foods are a way better way to go rather than low-fiber carbs. Finally, counting carbs is also a good habit to get into as a diabetic since carbs raise your blood sugar levels. So knowing how many and what type of carbohydrate foods you are eating can affect how you manage your diabetes. This means that it is very important that as a diabetic you read the food labels when choosing foods to eat. Some foods label themselves as “sugar free”, but this doesn’t mean that they have any less carbs or calories than other foods. These three activities are good habits to get into doing on a daily basis to manage your diabetes in the best way possible.
There are also some specific foods that the American Diabetes Association suggests that diabetics eat since they’re low in carbs and high in key nutrients like calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and other vitamins. These foods include beans, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, sweet potatoes, berries, tomatoes, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, nuts, and fat-free yogurt and milk.
Last, but not least, lets talk about exercise. For diabetics it is recommended that you perform various exercises and physical activities. Exercising is known to lower blood glucose levels so this needs to be balanced with insulin injections, but is still good for you. Physical activities should be performed for at least 30 minutes a day, and at least five days a week. Activities like walking, jogging, swimming, yoga, and weightlifting are good hobbies to get into.
There is no known way that a person can do to prevent getting type 1 diabetes and there is no cure for it as of yet, but they can delay the development of it. A person can delay type 1 diabetes by keeping their blood sugar where it needs to be, and regularly go to medical checkups to check for any complications. Then the complications that may be caught by doctors can be treated early and the damage could be stopped, slowed, and possibly reversed.
In order to keep your blood sugar at the point where it needs to be there are many things that need to be done. For one balancing the insulin levels in your blood is important which then includes balancing your insulin doses though injections or infusion through a pump. These insulin injections of infusions need to be balanced with your eating and activities through out your day. Another thing diabetics need to do is measure their glucose level several times a day. Without glucose, there can be serious consequences like kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke, and pregnancy complications.
Finally, a type 1 diabetic needs to maintain a healthy diet and have healthy exercising habits, but that is a post for another day.
Type 1 diabetes is very much a mystery to scientists since they don’t know what specifically causes people to have this type of diabetes. However, it is believed that type 1 diabetes is caused by a genetic or environmental trigger that causes something to “turn on” the diabetes in a person’s body. It is also thought that if there is a history of diabetes in your family you may have a more increased risk of developing diabetes. Other things that could possibly trigger the diabetes in a person includes: exposure to certain viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, Coxsackie virus, mumps virus and cytomegalovirus, early exposure to cow’s milk, low vitamin D levels, drinking water that contains nitrates, having a mother who had preeclampsia during pregnancy, and being born with jaundice. None of these have been strictly proven, but there have been cases where this has true.
Now in a type 1 diabetic the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t produce any at all because the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin producing cells. So it is like this: you take away the insulin and right away you can tell this process won’t work at all. Since the insulin doesn’t bind with the receptors a glucose transporter can’t be called up to the cell membrane to transport the glucose into the cell and in result the cell can’t make any energy. This is what takes place in a type 1 diabetic’s body while in a non-diabetic the insulin would instead make it to the blood stream to let glucose into the cells.
So a person may not know why they ended up having diabetes, but a big part of having diabetes is understanding what it does in order to know how to help yourself.