Diabetes: An Overview
Located at the back of the abdomen, the pancreas secretes insulin, which is vital in controlling the sugar (glucose) flow in and out of body cells. Deficiency or lack of insulin in the body leads to the occurrence of type 1 diabetes. Deficiency of insulin in the body is a consequence of a damaged pancreas. The pancreas can be damaged due to autoimmune disorders or viral infections.
In an autoimmune disorder, the body’s immune system turns against itself. Hence, in type 1 diabetes, the cells of pancreas responsible for insulin production are destroyed by the very same cells that are inherently designed to protect the body from microorganism infections.
The disease is less common (only about 10% of all diabetes cases in the US are type 1) than the majorly prevalent, and avoidable, type 2 diabetes.
Treatment and Prevention
The most common, and in fact most widely used, remedy is the injection of insulin under the skin, so that it is absorbed into the blood stream. Once insulin gets into the blood stream, it can then easily reach all cells of the body that are in urgent need of insulin for producing energy.
It has to be noted that insulin in the form of pills is not recommended as the acidic juices in the stomach interfere with it, and hence the insulin can be destroyed before showing any effects. Since insulin is a chemically active substance, its chemical structure is damaged after reaction with acids. Upon reaction with enzymes in the digestive system (including those released, ironically, by the pancreas), insulin can be nullified. Hence, injections are the safest and most effective way. Summarized briefly, treatment for diabetes type 1 is given in following ways.
- Frequent or regular insulin injections or insulin pumps (as prescribed by medical experts).
- Ensuring that physical activity in the form of plenty of adequate exercises are an integral part of the lifestyle of a diabetic patient, be it type 1 or type 2.
- Monitoring the body weight frequently and altering it in case it exceeds or is less than the healthy body weight.
- Following a healthy diet, keeping in mind the carbohydrate levels in the diet.
It has to be understood that treatment varies for every individual in terms of insulin dosage and other activities. You have to work as per the guidance of your dietitian and GP. You must quit smoking and alcohol, as they are threats to the life of a diabetic patient. A healthy lifestyle is the most important requirement for improving symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Moreover, your determination and the support of your family and friends is also crucial. By starting from proper dosage of insulin injections to healthy exercises and eating right type and amount of food, treatment for type 1 diabetes can certainly be successful in containing the risk factors of the disease to the minimum.