Here is basic information that our family has learned about this condition. We were educated in the hospital, are continuing at the Diabetes Education Center and I have done a lot of internet research. I have compiled all of it into this post: Diabetes 101. It is our wish that we can teach Seth how to responsibly manage his diabetes so that he can have a healthy and successfull life and not live a life full of the complications listed in the end. We are aware this can be ugly, we are choosing to focus on empowering Seth to take control of this. I have 6 more years of this amazing boy living in my house. We have 6 years to help him understand how important responsibly managing this condition is for his long-term health and well-being.
Type 1 Diabetes (Juvenile Diabetes/Insulin Dependent):
Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone your body needs to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Although type 1 diabetes typically appears during adolescence, it can develop at any age. Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure, although it can be managed.
Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can come on quickly and may include:
· Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in your bloodstream, fluid is pulled from your tissues. This may leave you thirsty. As a result, you may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
· Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your cells, your muscles and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers intense hunger that may persist even after you eat. Without insulin, the sugar in your food never reaches your energy-starved tissues.
· Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, you may lose weight — sometimes rapidly. Without the energy sugar supplies, your muscle tissues and fat stores may simply shrink.
· Fatigue. If your cells are deprived of sugar, you may become tired and irritable.
· Blurred vision. If your blood sugar level is too high, fluid may be pulled from your tissues — including the lenses of your eyes. This may affect your ability to focus clearly.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Scientists do know that in most people with type 1 diabetes, their body's own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Genetics may play a role in this process, and exposure to certain viruses may trigger the disease.
Whatever the cause, once the islet cells are destroyed, you'll produce little or no insulin. Normally, the hormone insulin helps glucose enter your cells to provide energy to your muscles and tissues. Insulin comes from the pancreas, a gland located just behind the stomach. When everything is working properly, once you eat, the pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream. As insulin circulates, it acts like a key by unlocking microscopic doors that allow sugar to enter the body's cells. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, and as the blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
The liver acts as a glucose storage and manufacturing center. When insulin levels are low — when you haven't eaten in a while, for example — the liver converts stored glycogen back to glucose to keep your blood glucose level within a normal range.
In type 1 diabetes, none of this occurs because there's no insulin to let glucose into the cells. So instead of being transported into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream, where it can cause life-threatening complications.
There aren't many known risk factors for type 1 diabetes, though researchers continue to find new possibilities. Some known risk factors include:
· A family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
· Genetics. The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. In some cases — usually through a clinical trial — genetic testing can be done to determine if someone who has a family history of type 1 diabetes is at increased risk of developing the condition.
· Geography. The incidence of type 1 diabetes tends to increase as you travel away from the equator.
· Viral exposure.
· Low vitamin D levels. Research suggests that vitamin D may be protective against type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can affect many major organs in your body, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Keeping your blood sugar level close to normal most of the time can dramatically reduce the risk of many complications.
Long-term complications of type 1 diabetes develop gradually, over years. The earlier you develop diabetes — and the less controlled your blood sugar — the higher the risk of complications. Eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening.
· Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes dramatically increases your risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure. In fact, about 65 percent of people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes die of some type of heart or blood vessel disease, according to the American Heart Association.
· Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in the legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Poorly controlled blood sugar could cause you to eventually lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves that affect the gastrointestinal tract can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, erectile dysfunction may be an issue.
· Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
· Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
· Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections. Severe damage might require toe, foot or even leg amputation.
· Skin and mouth conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections. Gum infections also may be a concern, especially if you have a history of poor dental hygiene.
· Osteoporosis. Diabetes may lead to lower than normal bone mineral density, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.
· Pregnancy complications. High blood sugar levels can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby. The risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects are increased when diabetes isn't well controlled. For the mother, diabetes increases the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic eye problems (retinopathy), pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and preeclampsia.
· Hearing problems. Hearing impairments occur more often in people with diabetes.