Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus - An Overview
Medically reviewed by Ajidahun Olusina, MD
August 31, 2021
Before we dive into the overview of type-1 diabetes mellitus, it is essential to understand diabetes. This will provide us with a comprehensive knowledge of the disease and how it manifests.
Type-1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and globally represents a public health challenge. Type-1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune disorder. This is a medical term for diseases in which the body attacks itself. As a result, your pancreas' β-cells which produce insulin, are destroyed.
It is not as common as type 2 diabetes, and it accounts for about 10% of people with Diabetes. It is more common in children but can also occur in young adults. Due to a lack of insulin, blood glucose levels rise, resulting in a degeneration of the patient's health. This could lead to several health conditions that could ultimately result in death.
If you have Diabetes, it might be due to:
If these two conditions are met in a person's body, the glucose would not be able to get into the body cells. If the glucose stays too long in your bloodstream, your blood glucose (or blood sugar) level would be high, posing a danger to healthy living. At this point, such a person needs to seek medical attention.
The signs and symptoms of type-1 diabetes mellitus can appear progressively or suddenly, and this may include one of, or a combination of any of the following:
If you notice any of the above symptoms in yourself or your child, reach out to your health care provider for proper investigation and management.
The presence of a particular gene indicates an increased risk of developing type-1 diabetes. Family History. This is another crucial factor that can predispose a child to have this type of Diabetes. Anyone with a parent or sibling with T1DM has higher chances of developing too. Environment or Location. This type of diabetes is common among children of black origin. It has been established that type-1 diabetes mellitus is diabetes at a young age. However, it can occur at any age. It usually peaks in children between 4 and 7 years old and can also peak in children between 10 and 14.
The prevalence of type-1 diabetes mellitus varies from country to country. It is not rare in African children, and probably an important number of undiagnosed cases exist. Its burden is huge in developing countries due to the lack of essential means of reaching a diagnosis and reasonable glucose control.
With the bits of data available on children in Sub-Saharan Africa, the incidence was estimated to be 1.5/100,000 in Tanzania and 10.5/100,000 in Sudan. While in Ethiopia, it accounts for 9.8% of patients attending a diabetic clinic in Addis Ababa. However, this prevalence and incidence may be underestimated since most of them were performed decades ago and were mainly hospital-based studies. The study from Nigeria found it to be higher in children from poor homes.
There is generally a higher incidence in children of black origin compared to others. Girls and boys are almost equally affected, distinguishing type-1 diabetes mellitus from most autoimmune illnesses, which tends to affect females more frequently.
There are several tests for type-1 diabetes mellitus. Here are some of them:
It is advisable to maintain regular monitoring of blood glucose. Following the methods below, you may accomplish this at home:
When you check your glucose level, the expected normal value should be between 70-100mg/dl if you checked 2 hours after eating. When fasting, the value should not exceed 100mg/dl, while the value for glucose 2 hours after eating should be less than 140mg/dl. If you're getting values above these stated normal ones, kindly consult your doctor for proper investigation.
Some of the complications may include:
Some significant issues in Africa and developing countries include late presentation, delayed and missed diagnosis, unavailability of insulin, and poor glucose control. Let us look at more of the challenges in detail.
Education plays a vital role in diabetes management, irrespective of the type. Patients with type1 diabetes mellitus need extensive education if they are to manage their disease safely and effectively and minimize long-term complications. It is best done by the patient's family doctor. Generally, these are the tasks carried out by healthcare professionals when managing this condition:
Unlike type 2 diabetes mellitus, there is no known way to prevent this type of diabetes. There is ongoing research to find ways of preventing further destruction of the native β-cells meant for insulin production. Consult your doctor if you feel you have higher chances of birthing a child with type-1 diabetes.
Type-1 diabetes mellitus is a chronic, lifelong disorder of glucose regulation characterized by autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing pancreatic β-cell, leading progressively to insulin deficiency and elevated blood glucose. When blood glucose levels are under control, optimal health and well-being can be reached. Intensive management significantly decreases the likelihood of developing the possible complications which may be life-threatening, as mentioned. If you notice a spike in your blood glucose level, reach out to your doctor.
Treatment aims to imitate the function of the native β-cells by replenishing insulin and includes frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels to restore and maintain the average glucose level. A person with this condition will have to be on continuous insulin injection.
Mayo Clinic - Type-1 Diabetes
Web MD - Type-1 Diabetes
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
BMJ Best Practice - Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus - Epidemiology