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The question that many never seem to know the answer to….What is type 1 diabetes?
Let’s start with a few questions and statements I constantly receive….
Did you eat too much sugar as a child?
You can’t eat sweets and cake?
Oh, so you just have to inject insulin once a day?
Why don’t you just stop eating sugar and you won’t have it anymore?
Lets start by clearing the air ...
Type 1 diabetes is an incurable, auto-immune disease that is not a choice, you do nothing to cause it and you can do nothing to prevent it, which then makes it offensive when people make the sugar comments!
It affects about 10% of the diabetic population as a whole and is more commonly found in people aged below 40.
Type 1 diabetics can eat whatever they like as long as they can carbohydrate count, and being on an insulin pump can also increase your flexibly with food, but remember, no two diabetics are the same, so what one may eat, another may not- just like a normal person!
There is no current known cause for Type 1 diabetes- it is an auto immune disease which causes your immune system to attack the cells in your pancreas and therefore your pancreas is no longer able to produce insulin. It is not caused by poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle and there is nothing you could have done to prevent type 1 diabetes.
There is little to no correlation between type 1 diabetes and parents, meaning it’s not hereditary in almost 90% of cases.
I want to quickly clear up the difference between diabetes type 1 and type 2 ...
Type 2 diabetes is mainly to do with your diet- not sugar, but fats, and you are at a higher risk with fat on a certain part of your body, your mid riff, so therefore it’s important to eat healthy, just like any human being should be!
Type 2 diabetes can usually be treated with careful exercise and diet plans along with medication- but some is caused by other factors, however type 1 diabetes can only be treated with insulin and there is no cure as well as no known cause.
There are several causes of type 2 diabetes; however the leading causes of type 2 diabetes are genetics and lifestyle. These factors lead can lead to insulin resistance; some people with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant and others don’t produce enough insulin to regulate the insulin in their blood which could be better described as an insulin deficiency.
Now let's get back to type 1 ...
Recognise the signs!
There can be other signs but these are the most common. Consult your doctor if you or a loved one is presenting these symptoms!
Type 2 Diabetes usually develops over time and you may live with it a long time before you are diagnosed - this leads to an increased risk in complications so it’s important to get regular health checks and make sure your lifestyle is a healthy one.
If Type 2 diabetes does run in your family, make sure you get checks ups as you get older. **There is an increasing case of Type 2 diabetes in children due to the obesity epidemic**
Insulin is a hormone that is created by the pancreas (a healthy one at least). It allows your body to extract sugar from the carbohydrates in your food, and in turn store this as energy. It then helps to stop your blood sugar from getting too low (hypoglycaemia) or too high (hyperglycaemia).
Type 1 diabetes does not sleep- it is a 24/7 disease for the rest of your life- and if it isn’t controlled (which is not an easy task) it can lead to complications such as sight loss, limb loss, organ failure and death. Without insulin, you die, and it’s really that basic. Unfortunately for diabetics, everything can affect their blood sugar, not just food.
This includes stress, weather; emotions, altitude and climates, you name it and it can affect type 1 diabetics!
If you think you recognise any of these symptoms above in either yourself or a friend or family member, contact your doctor right away. Leaving it untreated may lead to complications including, Neuropath of the nerves and kidneys, eye damage, foot damage, and in severe cases, death. There are many support groups and informative pages to help you with diagnosis and information- get in touch if you’d like support in finding more information.
As a final note, I wanted to write this article to help people understand the serious nature of this condition and hopefully educate some people as to the harsh challenges type 1 diabetes can have on someone’s life. For many years I have battled with this illness and I know I will for many more years to come.
But with the support of my friends, family and most importantly those who share in my hardship I have fought through the tough times and have no desire to slow my life down or put my dreams on hold. Dream Big, Travel Far was created from the desire to help inspire, motivate and reassure as many other type 1’s to not give up on their dreams and to keep fighting.
If this post reaches through to just one person then it would have been a success. Please be sympathetic, understanding and help spread the word. Sharing this article would be a great place to start.
Also please share your thoughts below or ask any more questions you may have! :)