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Type 1 Diabetes : Symptoms, Cause, Prevention and Treatment

Type 1 diabetes is a condition characterized by high levels of sugar or glucose in the blood. Different from type 2 diabetes that occurs due to insulin resistance or because the cells of the body become immune or unresponsive to insulin, type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is lacking or does not produce insulin. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes need additional insulin from outside.

Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes. It is known that only 10 percent of type 1 diabetics from all diabetes cases worldwide.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can appear suddenly, and can worsen quickly in a matter of weeks. In general, symptoms develop at the age of children to adolescents, but can also occur in adulthood.

Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night (polyuria).
  • Frequent thirst (polydipsia).
  • Often feeling hungry (polyphagia).
  • Weight loss.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Fatigue.
  • Infection easily.
  • Long healed wounds.
  • Feeling stiff or tingling in the legs.

See a doctor immediately if symptoms arise such as abdominal pain, shortness of breath, breath smells like fruit, loss of appetite, and decreased consciousness.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which is a condition when the body's immune system turns to attack healthy body cells. In people with type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas, which function to produce insulin. As a result, insulin production in the body becomes stalled.

If beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed and are unable to produce insulin, sugar cannot enter the cell. This condition causes sugar to accumulate in the blood and trigger high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

It is not yet known what causes the immune system to attack beta cells in the pancreas. However, a number of factors are believed to be related to this condition, including:

  • Individuals who have families (parents or siblings) with type 1 diabetes are more at risk of suffering from the same disease. This is thought to be related to the HLA gene, which functions to produce protein for the immune system.
  • Although it can attack all ages, type 1 diabetes is more prone to occur in children, especially at the age of 4-14 years.
  • Geographical location. The results show that the farther a person lives from the equator or equator, the higher the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes

Some risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:

  • Factors of family history or heredity, where a person will be more at risk of developing type 1 diabetes if a family member suffers from the same disease, because it is associated with certain genes.
  • Geographical factors, where people living in areas away from the equator, such as Finland and Sardinia, are most affected by type 1 diabetes. This is due to a lack of vitamin D, which can trigger autoimmune diseases.
  • Age factor, where the disease is most often detected in children aged 4-7 years, then in children aged 10-14 years.
  • Other trigger factors, such as consuming cow's milk at an early age, water containing sodium nitrate, cereal and gluten before age 4 months or after 7 months, have a mother with a history of preeclampsia, and have jaundice at birth.

Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

The doctor will diagnose a person suffering from type 1 diabetes by conducting medical interviews, physical examinations, and supporting examinations, such as:

  • Check blood and urine to determine glucose content in the body.
  • HbA1c examination to check the average glucose level in the blood of the sufferer for the last 2 to 3 months.
  • Examination of autoantibodies to distinguish between type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes cannot be cured. The treatment is aimed at maintaining the balance of blood glucose levels and controlling symptoms, to prevent complications that can occur later. Some of the medications given by doctors include:

  • Insulin to control blood glucose in the sufferer. Giving insulin is injected into the layer under the skin about 3-4 times a day according to the recommended dose of the doctor.
  • A healthy diet and regular exercise to help control blood glucose levels.
  • Take care of your feet and check your eyes regularly to prevent further complications.
  • The artificial pancreatic system, is a series of devices designed to mimic the ability of these organs to regulate blood sugar levels. This device consists of an insulin pump, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), and a device that connects the two, which is used as a control and regulating dose. The function of an artificial pancreatic system is to measure glucose levels regularly and adjust the injected insulin levels, just like the original pancreas.

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can cause a number of dangerous complications, including:

  • Diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to blood vessels in the retina, which can lead to blindness.
  • Diabetic neuropathy, which is damage to fine blood vessels and nerves, causing symptoms of tingling in the fingertips that can spread to other body parts, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Stroke and coronary heart disease due to an increased risk of atherosclerosis, due to high blood glucose levels.
  • Diabetic nephropathy, which is kidney damage due to interference with the renal blood vessels due to high blood glucose.
  • Sexual dysfunction, which results in erectile disorders, decreased sexual satisfaction, lack of sex drive, failure to reach orgasm, pain during intercourse, and dry vagina.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth in the fetus if blood glucose levels are not handled carefully.
  • Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition of blood sugar levels that are too low. This complication is triggered by injecting too much insulin. In addition, hypoglycemia can also be caused by a lack of carbohydrate intake or excessive exercise.

  • Hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is a condition of sugar that is too high. This condition can occur due to overeating or lack of insulin doses. Hyperglycemia that is left untreated can lead to serious complications of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition in which the body is not processing carbohydrates, but fat as the main energy source.

Prevention of Type 1 Diabetes

Prevention efforts in type 1 diabetes include:

  • Undergoing intensive treatment if there are family members who suffer from type 1 diabetes.
  • Take a DNA test to find out if someone has a carrier gene or type 1 diabetes.



Simmons, K. Michels, A. (2015). Type 1 Diabetes: A Predictable Disease. World Journal of Diabetes.

Health Service Executive. Conditions and Treatments. Diabetes, Type 1.

World Health Organization (2017). Fact Sheets. Diabetes.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.