I'm Dr. Yogish C. Kudva an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic. In this video, we'll cover the basics of type 1 diabetes. What is it? Who gets it? The symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Whether you're looking for answers for yourself or someone you love. We are here to give you the best information available. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the insulin making cells of the pancreas. It's estimated that about 1.25 million Americans live with it. People with type 1 diabetes don't make enough insulin. An important hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin allows your cells to store sugar or glucose and fat and produce energy. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. But treatment can prevent complications and also improve everyday life for patients with type 1 diabetes. Lots of people with type 1 diabetes live a full life. And the more we learn and develop treatment for the disorder, the better the outcome.
We don't know what exactly causes type 1 diabetes. We believe that it is an auto-immune disorder where the body mistakenly destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Typically, the pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream. The insulin circulates, letting sugar enter your cells. This sugar or glucose, is the main source of energy for cells in the brain, muscle cells, and other tissues. However, once most insulin producing cells are destroyed, the pancreas can't produce enough insulin, meaning the glucose can't enter the cells, resulting in an excess of blood sugar floating in the bloodstream. This can cause life-threatening complications. And this condition is called diabetic ketoacidosis. Although we don't know what causes it, we do know certain factors can contribute to the onset of type 1 diabetes. Family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing it. Genetics. The presence of certain genes can also indicate an increased risk. Geography. Type 1 diabetes becomes more common as you travel away from the equator. Age, although it can occur at any age there are two noticeable peaks. The first occurs in children between four and seven years of age and the second is between 10 and 14 years old.
Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes can appear rather suddenly, especially in children. They may include increased thirst, frequent urination, bed wetting in children who previously didn't wet the bed. Extreme hunger, unintended weight loss, fatigue and weakness, blurred vision, irritability, and other mood changes. If you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
The best way to determine if you have type 1 diabetes is a blood test. There are different methods such as an A1C test, a random blood sugar test, or a fasting blood sugar test. They are all effective and your doctor can help determine what's appropriate for you. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may order additional tests to check for antibodies that are common in type 1 diabetes in the test called C-peptide, which measures the amount of insulin produced when checked simultaneously with a fasting glucose. These tests can help distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes when a diagnosis is uncertain.
If you have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you may be wondering what treatment looks like. It could mean taking insulin, counting carbohydrates, fat protein, and monitoring your glucose frequently, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Generally, those with type 1 diabetes will need lifelong insulin therapy. There are many different types of insulin and more are being developed that are more efficient. And what you may take may change. Again, your doctor will help you navigate what's right for you. A significant advance in treatment from the last several years has been the development and availability of continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pumps that automatically adjust insulin working with the continuous glucose monitor. This type of treatment is the best treatment at this time for type 1 diabetes. This is an exciting time for patients and for physicians that are keen to develop, prescribe such therapies. Surgery is another option. A successful pancreas transplant can erase the need for additional insulin. However, transplants aren't always available, not successful and the procedure can pose serious risks. Sometimes it may outweigh the dangers of diabetes itself. So transplants are often reserved for those with very difficult to manage conditions. A successful transplant can bring life transforming results. However, surgery is always a serious endeavor and requires ample research and concentration from you, your family, and your medical team.
The fact that we don't know what causes type 1 diabetes can be alarming. The fact that we don't have a cure for it even more so. But with the right doctor, medical team and treatment, type 1 diabetes can be managed. So those who live with it can get on living. If you would like to learn even more about type 1 diabetes, watch our other related videos or visit mayoclinic.org. We wish you well.