Today Is National Type 1 Diabetes Day!
November 1st is National Type 1 Diabetes Day. While the celebration of a chronic disease that impacts the lives of 25.8 million Americans (8.3% of the population in total with type 1 and type 2 diabetes) may not be as uplifting as other holidays, there truly is reason to celebrate the incredibly strides being made in scientific research. Such research has not only greatly improved disease management for people living with type 1 diabetes, it is enabling the potential for treatment... something unheard of in years past. Before I dive into that topic, let’s first explore the basics of type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is often confused with type 2 diabetes mellitus given the similarity of their names. However, major differences exist, primarily in the role your pancreas roles in blood sugar management. For now, let’s focus on type 1…
What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?
Despite common beliefs, type 1 diabetes is not linked with weight gain, but is the result of a faulty pancreas that has lost the ability to produce insulin. Type 1 is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes for this very reason. Some people may be born without this ability while others may not be diagnosed until their 30’s. Either way, the disease must be controlled by injecting artificial insulin into the body to help control blood sugar levels. Someone with type 1 must measure an appropriate amount of insulin based on the amount of carbohydrates they have consumed.
What Does Type 1 Diabetes Do?
Symptoms of this disease include:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Drowsiness, lethargy
- Sugar in urine
- Sudden vision changes
- Increased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
- Heavy, labored breathing
- Stupor, unconsciousness
How Is Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosed?
Diabetes may be diagnosed by testing your blood sugar levels. A healthy blood sugar level on an empty stomach will be within the range of 70-110 mg/dL. If you choose to test your blood before bed, it should be within 100-140 mg/dL. If your numbers are much lower (hypoglycemia) or higher (hyperglycemia), I encourage you to visit your health care professional to learn more about your numbers.
Diet for Type 1 Diabetes
In addition to taking insulin, those living with type 1 diabetes are able to better manage their disease by taking charge of their diet. Adhering to a balanced and nutritious diet with a limited and consistent carbohydrate intake, they're able to determine the amount of insulin needed and maintain a stable blood sugar level – thereby preventing diabetic complications such as blood vessel or nerve damage.
Progress in Health Care
What's so exciting on this national day of recognition is the fact that research has not only led to the creation of high-tech insulin pumps that deliver insulin without having to inject a needle every time, but researchers are also on the brink of offering an artificial pancreas to all type 1 diabetics! The artificial pancreas is something that's being referred to as the "most revolutionary development in diabetes since the discovery of insulin" and certainly something to celebrate. It has already been tested with success and developers are simply doing their best to jump through hoops of rules and regulations before being able to offer this to the diabetic population.
Diabetes type 1 and type 2, comprises a disease that is impacting millions of Americans, and I'm guessing there may be someone in your life that's living with one or the other... Thankfully, lifestyle changes make a positive difference for both types.
For more information on type 1 diabetes, visit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.