What is Type 1 diabetes, you may wonder. In type 1 diabetes, there is a complete destruction of insulin producing cells (called beta cells) in the pancreas by the person’s own immune system. Therefore , we call it an autoimmune disorder.
Type 1 Diabetes-An Autoimmune Disorder
What is an autoimmune disorder? Normally, immune system protects you against the invading viruses and bacteria. But, in an autoimmune disorder, your own immune system goes haywire. Then, it starts to attack your own tissues such as beta cells in your pancreas. Gradually it kills all of the beta cells. Consequently, insulin production comes to a halt. And you develop type 1 diabetes.
Other Autoimmune Disorders Associated with Type 1 Diabetes
A person with type 1 diabetes is at a high risk of developing other autoimmune disorders. These include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, asthma, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis. It all depends where the hyped-up immune cells will launch their attack. thyroid, stomach, lungs, skin or joints. Therefore, it is important to calm down these hyped-up immune cells. I discuss it further under ” the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.”
Development of Type 1 Diabetes
Insulin is a hormone. Special cells called Beta cells in your pancreas produce insulin. One of the main functions of insulin is to drive glucose from the blood into the cells. For example, muscle cells, where it is used as a fuel to produce energy. Think of the cell as a small room and the blood vessel as a hallway. Glucose is a delivery person, running through the hallway trying to enter the room. Insulin works as the doorman, opening the door for glucose to enter.
When there is a complete lack of insulin, the doorman is gone. So, the door to the cell remains closed. This is what happens in Type 1 diabetes. Consequently, your glucose in the blood starts to rise. A markedly high level of glucose in the blood leads to symptoms. These include sudden onset of excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and fatigue. Sometimes, a life-threatening condition can develop. It is called Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
Patients with Type 1 diabetes have to take insulin on a regular basis. If they stop taking insulin, they can rapidly lapse into a coma. They can even die if they don’t receive treatment in time.