Diabetes Mellitus broadly refers to a group of illnesses that affect insulin synthesis and glucose metabolism in the body. They are primarily of three types:
- Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM)
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM)
- Gestational Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is caused due to a combination of genetic abnormalities and environmental factors. It presents a situation wherein the defense mechanism in the body identifies the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign bodies and hence causes destruction of those cells.
This in turn vastly reduces the amounts of insulin in the system, allowing glucose or sugars to accumulate in the bloodstream, instead of being transported to other cells in the body. High levels of glucose in blood is termed hyperglycemia and can be very damaging.
Type 1 diabetes mellitus typically occurs at a young age, in childhood or adolescence, with the symptoms appearing rapidly and severely. Also Read: Diabetes: 11 Myths and Facts You Should Know
The risk factors for type 1 diabetes mellitus include:
- A family history of the disease
- Exposure to serious viral illnesses or other toxic environmental elements
- Carrying self-destructive immune system proteins, also known as autoantibodies
- Living in geographical surroundings at a higher altitude
As soon as parents notice any signs of prolonged fatigue, increased thirst or frequent urination in their children, it is advised to seek medical care immediately. In instances of T1DM, the sooner the diagnosis is confirmed and treatment is initiated, the chances of avoiding harsh consequences such as heart ailments and neuropathies are significantly improved. In this way, the disease can be managed and quality of life can be enhanced for the patients, even in the later years of their life.
Symptoms Of Diabetes:
- Feeling thirsty very often
- Irregular kidney function and urination
- Sudden weight loss
- Abnormal hunger pangs and appetite
- Tiredness and dizziness
- Sores and blisters which do not heal promptly
- Irritability and low moods
- Blurred vision
- Infections on skin and gums
Diagnosis And Treatment:
The doctor will first carefully study the external indicators as well as the family history of the child. Next, several parameters of blood sugar are measured by performing a series of laboratory tests.
1. Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) Test:
Here, the blood sample of the patient is taken and the fraction of sugars bonded to the hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein component of red blood cells) in blood is measured. This indicates the average blood sugar range over a period of the past three months. An A1C value higher than 6.5 signifies diabetes.
2. Random Blood Sugar Test:
The medical professional will extract a sample of blood at any given time of day. In case the value of blood sugar is higher than 200 mg/dL, it suggests diabetes.
In case the results of these two tests vary on different occasions, then the healthcare provider will also calculate fasting blood sugar levels and scrutinize urine samples to look for the presence of ketones.
Advanced detection protocols are carried out to look for any signs of autoimmune self-destructive capabilities of the antibodies in the system.
Treatment for T1DM mainly comprises of insulin administration by oral means or intravenously, by means of tablets, pumps or injections, several times in a day and constant monitoring of blood sugars. This is to compensate for the low levels of insulin secretions by the pancreatic cells and to normalize glucose breakdown and utilisation by tissues in the body.
A well-balanced diet must be strictly adhered to, consisting of proteins, healthy fats, and fibers and steering clear of oily junk foods and sweets. Exercise is mandatory every day, for at least 30 minutes, to standardise the energy absorption in the cells.
In very acute and extreme cases of type 1 diabetes mellitus, the dependence on insulin therapy is enormous and the disease results in great challenges in normal day-to-day activities for the affected youngsters. In such scenarios, pancreas transplant is an option, to reduce the constant requirement of insulin injections.