I discovered the other day that our retired pastor has diabetes, which he did not have before. But diabetes is no respecter of age. It can happen in the young and old alike.
Childhood diabetes is a growing problem, it seems. I am no expert on the subject, but those that are, indeed, experts, say that either the insulin is not being produced or it is not being absorbed, thereby not allowing essential levels of sugar into the cells.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type I diabetes usually starts in childhood, but can occur in adults (30 to 40-year-olds). The pancreas cannot make insulin to help body cells convert sugar into energy, which causes the sugar to build up in the blood that can cause life-threatening complications. Individuals with type I diabetes must take some form of insulin for the rest of their lives.
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes
In people with type I diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys pancreatic cells (Beta cells) that produce insulin. In people with type II diabetes, the pancreas is not attacked and usually produces insulin. However, people with type II diabetes, for numerous reasons, cannot use the available insulin effectively. People with type II diabetes can have the same symptoms as people with type I diabetes, but people with type I diabetes usually have the symptoms occur more rapidly.
Warning Sign: Unusual Thirst
Symptoms of type I diabetes may appear suddenly and can include the following:
- Frequent urination (polyuria)
- Drinking more water because of excessive thirst (polydipsia)
- Feeling excessively hungry (polyphagia)
- Dry mouth
- Fruity breath
- Weight loss
Warning Sign: Weight Loss
Because the blood sugar levels remain high and the body then metabolizes fat for energy, people with type I diabetes develop unintentional weight loss, and an increase in appetite. Because glucose metabolism is disrupted, they also feel a lack of energy and may be drowsy for extended periods.
Warning Sign: Skin Problems
The disruption in glucose metabolism in people with type I diabetes causes other problems such as a higher risk for bacterial infections, fungal infections, and skin changes that result in itching and dry skin. Poor blood circulation in the skin also may occur. Girls with type I diabetes are at risk for vaginal yeast infections, while babies who have the disease can develop severe diaper rash due to the yeast Candida albicans. The diaper rash can spread to other areas of the body such as the stomach and legs.
More Dangerous Signs
People with untreated type 1 diabetes can experience serious symptoms such as blurry vision, numbness or tingling in the extremities (especially the feet), loss of consciousness, and diabetic coma. In contrast to high sugars in the blood, occasionally people with type I diabetes can get low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) when their blood glucose level falls suddenly.
In people with type 1 diabetes loss of consciousness, diabetic coma, and in some cases hypoglycemia are medical emergencies. Some people who are undiagnosed may have no warning signs, yet still can develop diabetic coma or hypoglycemia.
Other More Dangerous Signs: Ketoacidosis
The problem with type I diabetes is that the person’s cells are deprived of the sugar they need for energy. Without the insulin produced by the pancreas, sugar has difficulty entering the body’s cells. Consequently, the body cells start burning fat for energy, which causes ketones to build up in the blood. These acids can change the person’s blood pH level and can trigger a life-threatening coma. This is termed diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency that needs to be treated quickly, usually in a hospital setting.
What is a Pancreatic beta cell
Pancreatic beta cell: A type of cell in the pancreas that makes insulin.
The pancreas is a fish-shaped organ that stretches across the back of the abdomen behind the stomach. Within the pancreas there are areas that are called the islets of Langerhans. The beta cells constitute the predominant type of cell in the islets.
The beta cells are particularly important because they make insulin. Degeneration of the beta cells is the main cause of type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus.
Other info regarding diabetes . . .
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