Islets of Hope for persons newly diagnosed with diabetes
Article by Lahle Wolfe. For reprint information e-mail: Editor@isletsofhope.com
Rick Mendosa - "Advice for Newbies"
Dr Charles Fox
American Diabetes Assn.
What is type 1 diabetes?
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta islets cells in the pancreas. Eventually, the pancreas will not be able to make insulin and a person with type 1 diabetes will need to take daily injections of insulin each day for the rest of their life.
A combination of genetic factors and an environmental trigger contribute to the onset of type 1 diabetes. Many people have the genetic predisposition for type 1 diabetes but will never get the disease. It is thought that a virus (including votaviruses) may trigger the body's immune system to destroy the pancreatic beta cells.
Even with a genetic predisposition for developing diabetes most people still do not get it. This is why researchers focus on what environmental triggers contribute to the onset of diabetes in people. More people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during winter months as well as in colder climates in general, so cold weather is a suspected environmental trigger. Another trigger seems to be a virus, and diabetes is less common in breast-fed infants than those who started solid food at an early age.
People with diabetes often test positive (even years before onset) for a certain kind of autoantibody. Antibodies are normally good; a protein that attack and destroy bacteria and viruses that invade the body. But in diabetes autoantibodies (“auto” meaning self) mistake healthy cells for bad ones and these autoantibodies attack and destroy the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas.
People with type 1 diabetes may often also have autoantibodies for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this case, the thyroid gland is attacked and destroyed and a person may end up with hypothyroid (low thyroid) and require medication. Women with diabetes (type 1 or 2) may also have another autoimmune problem called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
There are actually many forms of type 1 diabetes, but the most common is the juvenile diabetes form typically diagnosed prior to age 25. Onset is usually rapid, over days or weeks. Other forms of type 1 diabetes can occur over a slow period of time. There is nothing you can do to prevent juvenile type 1 diabtes, and for now, there is no cure.
Can I predict if my child will get type 1 diabetes?
There are genetic tests that can be conducted to help predict your child’s odds of developing type 1. Most Caucasians with type 1 have either HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4 genes. If you and your child are Caucasian and share these genes, your child has greater risk of developing type 1.
Glucose tolerance tests can be performed with children, as well as test to measure antibodies to insulin, especially if there are siblings with type 1. This test measures antibodies to insulin, to islet cells in the pancreas, or to an enzyme called glutamic acid decarboxylase. High levels can indicate that a child has a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
What is the honeymoon phase?
The honeymoon phase (or "period") is a period of time after diagnosis where the pancreas resumes making some insulin. This can change how much insulin a person may need to inject since their body is temporarily and rather unpredictably producing some insulin.
Click on any link for more information about type 1 diabetes:
What is Type 1
Page Updated 02/27/2006