Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children and teenagers, but can occur in adults in the age of 30 to 40. In this condition, the pancreas, a small gland behind the stomach, produces little or no insulin to help body cells convert sugar into energy, which makes the sugar build up in the blood that can cause life-threatening complications. People with type 1 diabetes will need to take some form of insulin for the rest of their lives.
Some known risk factors for type 1 diabetes
- Family history.As type 1 diabetes involves an inherited susceptibility to developing the disease, anyone with a family member has (or had) type 1 diabetes, is at higher risk of developing the condition.
- Infection or illness. Some infections and illnesses, mostly rare ones, can damage your pancreas.
- Geography. It has also been found that as you travel away from the equator, the incidence of type 1 diabetes tends to increase. Europe has the highest incidence, with peak rates in Finland and Sardinias — about two to three times higher than rates in the US and 400 times the incidence among people living in Venezuela.
- Age. Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, nonetheless it is more likely to develop at two noticeable peaks. The first peak occurs in children at the age of 4 to 7, and the second is in children at the age of 10 to 14.
Many other potential risk factors for type 1 diabetes have been studied; however, none have been proved. Some other possible risk factors include:
- Exposure to certain viruses, such as cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr virus, rubella, measles, or Coxsackie viruses
- Early exposure to cow’s milk
- Low levels of vitamin D in the blood
- Drinking water with nitrate-nitrogen
- Early (before 4 months) or late (after 7 months) introduction of cereal and gluten into a baby’s diet
- Having a mother who had preeclampsia during pregnancy
- Being ill in early infancy
- Being born with jaundice
- Having autoimmune disorders such as Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (a form of hypothyroidism), Addison’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or pernicious anemia
Treatment for type 1 diabetes
- Taking several insulin injections every day or using insulin pump therapy
- Following a healthy diet that spreads carbohydrate throughout the day
- Frequently monitoring blood sugar
- Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking or drinking alcohol
Diabetes can’t be cured, but treatment aims to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible to prevent health problems developing later in life. Although there are exceptions, generally, the goal is to keep your daytime blood sugar levels before meals within the target range of 70 to 130 mg/dL (3.9 to 7.2 mmol/L) and your after meal numbers no higher than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L) two hours after eating.
You may find it difficult to manage your diabetes, especially when you’re first diagnosed. However, try to get into a daily routine to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible.