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Type 1 Diabetes by Anne Kazanas

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Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease in which the pancreas does not produce the hormone called insulin that regulates blood glucose levels in the bloodstream. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels. The lack of insulin production causes abnormally elevated glucose levels.

Type 1 Diabetes has also been referred to as an insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus. It is usually diagnosed in childhood, but can also occur in older patients. It is believed this type of diabetes is in part genetically inherited.
Insulin’s main role is to help move nutrients, especially sugar or glucose, into the cells of the body’s tissues. In Type 1 Diabetes, sugar doesn’t move into the cells because the insulin is not available. The sugar then builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. The body’s cells do not receive the nutrients and are starved of energy. The body then breaks down fat cells to provide energy for bodily functions, which results in an abnormally high blood glucose level. This can cause dehydration, weight loss, and diabetic ketoacidosis.

Over time the high glucose levels in the blood can cause damage to the body. Examples of this are damage to the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidney, and heart causing blindness, kidney failure, and increased risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. Type 1 Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes are frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue, and irritability.

The preferred way to diagnose Type 1 Diabetes is through a fasting blood glucose test. The patient’s blood is drawn after fasting for a minimum of at least 8 hours. Fasting plasma glucose levels of more than 126mg/dl on two or more tests on different days indicate diabetes. Normal fasting plasma glucose levels are less than 100mg/dl.

Diabetes management includes medication, exercise, and nutrition. Patients are required to monitor their blood glucose levels and appropriately administer insulin, which includes multiple daily injections. Nutritional meal planning and exercise help stabilize blood glucose levels.

Early detection of Type 1 Diabetes and early treatment can decrease the chance of developing complications of diabetes.



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