WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes Mellitus type 1, otherwise known as Type 1 Diabetes, is a disease resulting from the destruction of beta-cells in the pancreas. The lack of these cells,
otherwise responsible for the creation of insulin, translates into a lack of insulin, a necessary hormone in the transfer of glucose from the blood to tissue cells.
Basically, insulin acts as a bridge between the bloodflow and cells: as an individual eats, they consume carbohydrates, or sugars, that pass into the bloodflow. These sugars are
then absorbed and stored in cells, that use them to create energy that the body needs to function.
Without these beta-cells, and without this insulin, the body has no way of getting glucose, or sugar, into the cells so that it can eventually be transformed into energy. Without energy,
the body progressively shuts down, and unless insulin is administered externally, the consequences can be severe and even fatal.
Early detection and treatment are extremely important, and can even save lives. Common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes are frequent urination, an increased thirst,
increased hunger, weight loss, freqent fatigue, and lack of concentration. These symptoms are the manifestation of the body trying to get sugar into its' cells, and if this isn't possible, it starts to look for sugar
elsewhere, such as in muscle and fat tissue.
HOW DO YOU CONTROL IT?
Type 1 Diabetes can be treated through the injection of insulin to replace what that the body would otherwise produce.
Everytime an individual eats, they must subsequently inject themselves with a quantity of insulin proportional to the quantity of carbohydrates in their food.
In most instances, diabetes doesn't interfere with the individual's normal activities. Although one must carefully regulate the progression of their blood-glucose level, there are no activities
a patient who controls well their diabetes can't do. They are no different than any other person. Another common misconception is that diabetics cannot eat certain foods. Likewise, as long as
the individual takes enough insulin to regulate of the quantity of carbohydrates in their meal, there is no reason why they shouldn't be able eat certain foods.
A last important misconception is that diabetes is the result of eating too much sugar. This is also false, the disease being purely coincidental and random. Although research has been done on whether or not
diabetes can be inherited, results have been inconclusive.
The main complication associated with diabetes is the regulation of high and low blood-sugar. Blood-sugar is defined as the quantity of sugar found in an individual's bloodflow, and the
average blood-sugar level for a normal person is between 80 and 120 mg of glucose for 1 dL of blood. A low blood-sugar (under 80 mg/dL) can lead to sweating, shaking, a rapid heartbeat,
immediate lack of concentration and overall weakness, and eventually fainting if carbohydrates aren't eaten immediately. A high blood-sugar (usually over 200 mg/dL) however, manifests itself
by fatigue, increased thirst and urination amongst other symptoms, and long-term damage to organs.
IS THERE A CURE?
In itself, there is no cure to type 1 diabetes. The destruction of beta-cells is irreversible, and the ensuing diabetes is for life. However, revolutionary work is being
done in order to either halt the destruction of beta-cells, or help make the lives of diabetics much easier:
- Research is being conducted on vaccines against type 1 diabetes, such as GAD65, which has been observed to half the destruction of beta-cells, effectively preventing the onset of diabetes.
- Islet cell transplant are also being researched as a possible 'cure' of sorts to diabetes. Although a traditional pancreatic transplant would necessitate the use of immunosuppressive drugs
to prevent the destruction of new beta-cells, islet cell transplants are considered less invasive, and research is being conducted in order to create islets capable of creating insulin and that would necessitate
no use of immunosuppressive medication.
- The JDRF, or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is a key player in the creation of new, less invasive techniques to control diabetes. Amongst the many projects that it finances, the artificial
pancreas. This artificial pancreas automatically measures blood-glucose levels, without user input, and automatically injects the necessary amount of insulin. This basically mimicks the actual
functioning of the pancreas, and a diabetic would no longer need to take insulin manually when necessary.
HOW CAN I HELP?
One never outgrows diabetes. Those affected by it not only have live with the challenges that it poses, but also have to combat a lack of public awareness. Let's Cure Diabetes!
is a project with the goal to spread awareness, and also help to better the lives of those affected by diabetes.
For that reason, I ask you to share this website with friends, family. The more people are aware of what diabetes actually entails, the more we can make a difference.