Monday, 31 May 2010
Back to Basics
Today I have decided to go 'back to basics' and explain a bit about what type 1 diabetes is, how it's caused and its symptoms. I have ignored my condition for so long that I'm almost having to go right back to the start myself and re-learn a lot of things so I hope this will help me and also help people who aren't entirely sure what type 1 diabetes is to get more of an idea of what it's all about........
"Type 1 diabetes occurs because your body cannot produce any insulin which is a hormone that is needed to control the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood.
When you eat, your digestive system breaks down food and passes its nutrients into your bloodstream. Normally, insulin is produced by your pancreas to take any glucose out of your blood and move it into your cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.
However, if you have type 1 diabetes, there is no insulin to move glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not fully understood, although in most cases it is believed to be an auto-immune condition. This means it occurs as a result of your body's immune system mistaking a natural substance in your body as harmful, and attacking it.
In the case of type 1 diabetes, it is thought that the immune system attacks cells in your pancreas, destroying or damaging them enough to stop insulin production. It is not known exactly what triggers the immune system to do this, but it may be due to infection with a particular virus.
Type 1 diabetes tends to run in families, so there may also be a genetic cause for the auto-immune reaction."
The symptoms of diabetes are: Being very thirsty constantly, weeing all the time (more at night), being very tired, losing weight, blurred vision and slow healing of any wounds that you may have. The symptoms are usually very obvious and develop quickly.
My symptoms were extreme thirst, I can remember always going out of lessons at school to get a drink from the water fountain. Obviousuly, as I was drinking so much, all that liquid had to go somewhere so I was going to the loo about 100 times a day (not quite but thats how it felt at the time) and at night I would have to get up at least 4 times for the loo. Needless to say, with getting up so often in the night I was exhausted and never had any energy. Another thing I remember really clearly is that my appetite was virtually non-existent....my Mom would put a meal in front of me and I would have a few mouthfuls and then push the rest of the food around my plate. I don't remember this part so much but I think this is what made my Mom realise something was wrong.....I lost a hell of a lot of weight. As I say, I don't specifically remember that part but looking back at photos from before my diagnosis I can see how thin and ill I looked.
The treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin. This can be with either injections or an insulin pump (did I mention I'm getting a pump??!!?? He he). Insulin is a hormone made by an organ in our bodies called the pancreas. The function of insulin is to help our bodies use glucose for energy. The 3 main places that are usually used for injecting are stomach, buttocks and thighs. I have mainly used my thighs for years and years and have now got a build up of insulin deposits under the skin (also known as lipohypertrophy) which can affect the way that the inulin is absorbed and in turn can alter its effectiveness and affect blood sugar levels. This is why it is important to rotate injection sites. I am now trying to use my stomach for a while to give my thighs a rest and to give the lumps of insulin chance to disperse.
I think I've covered all of the most basic stuff there (I hope you are still awake!!!). I hope that's explained it all a little bit and at least shown that type 1 is not something that you get because you have eaten too many sweets as a kid.......which is one of my main pet hates about some people's idea of what diabetes is....but I will save that for another day!!!!! :o)
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