Symptoms of type 1 diabetes: thirst, hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, poor wound healing and several
Type 1 diabetes is a mystery for both scientists and patients. The disease was extremely rare about 100 years ago but today it has become the second most common chronic disease among children and adolescents. In recent years, it has also been shown that type 1 diabetes can affect adults of all ages. In fact, half of all people who get type 1 diabetes are older than 30 years. This means that the term “child diabetes” should no longer be used because everyone can suffer. At all ages, the cause of type 1 diabetes is the same: the body’s own immune system makes a mistake by destroying the beta cells of the pancreas and it is precisely these cells that make insulin. It used to be thought that this was fast, but today we know that it is a slow process that can take anything from a few weeks to a year. Sooner or later, so many beta cells will be destroyed that there will be a shortage of insulin. It is commonly said that symptoms of type 1 diabetes occur when 90% of beta cells are destroyed (i.e. when 90% of insulin production has stopped). Unlike symptoms of type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes is usually more dramatic. Here we go through all the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. For those who want to get a general overview, we recommend the chapter Type 1 Diabetes.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes may vary
Below we will review all the symptoms that can be caused by type 1 diabetes. It is important to remember that none of these symptoms is completely specific to type 1 diabetes, but there may be other explanations for each symptom. It should also be mentioned that a person with type 1 diabetes does not necessarily show all the symptoms; one may have only one or a few symptoms. If you suspect that you or a relative of kin have type 1 diabetes, contact your doctor immediately.
Dry mouth, increased thirst and increased water throwing: you are dry in your mouth, thirsty and urinating a lot
As the beta cells die, less insulin is produced and blood sugar rises (insulin lowers our blood sugar by signaling the body’s cells to take up the sugar). Therefore, everyone with type 1 diabetes has high blood sugar (sugar in the blood is called glucose, which is the same as glucose). People with type 1 diabetes have (before treatment) very high blood sugar and the kidneys cannot save all the sugar that gets there. This leads to the kidneys losing sugar into the urine and the sugar draws water, which ultimately leads to frequent urination. So, when the blood sugar gets very high, you pee very much. When you pee a lot, you lose fluid. This leads to thirsty and therefore you drink more water. You also get dry in your mouth because you get dehydrated.
Being thirstier and peeing more often are the most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
The medical term for increased thirst and drinking is polydipsia. The medical term for peeing more often is polyuria. A healthy person (without diabetes) urinates between 4 and 7 times a day.
Young children who have type 1 diabetes may suddenly become bed-wetter again because of the large urine output.
Rapid weight loss: weight loss in type 1 diabetes
We have previously discussed the role of the hormone insulin in the body. When we eat food, the blood sugar rises (food contains sugar). Sugar (glucose) signals to the pancreas (also called pancreas), which responds by releasing insulin. When insulin comes out into the body, the body’s cells are encouraged to take up and use sugar as a fuel. All excess sugar is stored as fat in our adipose tissue. In addition, insulin signals to our adipose tissue not to break down fat. When you get type 1 diabetes, you get a lack of insulin, which has the following consequences:
- Sugar is not absorbed by the cells of the body and then sugar can not be stored as fat.
- In the fatty tissue, fat begins to break down
When you can’t store fat and instead start breaking down fat, you lose weight. People with type 1 diabetes can lose relatively much weight relatively quickly.
Increased hunger and appetite: hungry when insulin levels drop
People with type 1 diabetes are not only thirsty, they are also very hungry. There are several explanations for this:
- Since the cells can not absorb the sugar, the cells “starve”, which leads to the release of hormones and these hormones increase our hunger.
- Insulin also has effects in the brain. Insulin makes you feel full. People with type 1 diabetes have a lack of insulin, which makes them hungry.
The medical term for increased hunger is polyphagia.
Fatigue: you get tired of high blood sugar
Lack of insulin leads to the fact that the cells of the body can not absorb glucose (glucose). This, of course, is a big problem because all cells in the body preferably use glucose as a fuel. Therefore, the lack of insulin leads to a lack of fuel inside the cells. You therefore get tired of type 1 diabetes. This can be manifested by physical fatigue (you can’t take physical activity), mental fatigue (you get easily irritated, you feel depressed or simply exhausted).
Blurred vision: blurred when blood sugar is high
In the eye there is a lens whose task is to provide us with a sharp vision. The lens contains water that is important for the functioning of the lens. When blood sugar rises, the amount of water in the lens increases and this leads to a worse performance. Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes often have blurred vision when blood sugar is high. Blurred vision (also known as blurred vision) makes you not see as sharply as usual. It becomes more difficult to see from a distance and details are less clearly visible.
Poor wound healing: wounds heal slowly or not at all
High blood sugar is bad for the blood vessels of the body, especially the smallest blood vessels. The high sugar makes the blood vessels, which are actually very complicated structures, unable to function normally. Blood vessels are important for us to heal wounds and high blood sugar leads to a decrease in wound healing. People with diabetes can therefore often notice that they have had wounds that do not heal, or have healed very slowly. Some people with type 2 diabetes may have had infections that have been difficult to heal.
Itching: the skin itches more than normal
The body dries out of the high blood sugar, and it also makes the skin drier. Then you may experience that it itches more in the skin.
Mushrooms thrive in high concentrations of sugar, which makes people with type 1 diabetes more often have problems with fungus. Most often, fungal infections occur in damp areas of skin, such as between fingers and toes, under the breasts or around the genitals (genital fungus).
Ketoacidosis: a serious condition
Ketoacidosis is a serious complication of type 1 diabetes. This condition occurs if the blood sugar is very high and has been it for a long time. Ketoacidosis indicates that there is a severe shortage of insulin and therefore blood sugar becomes very high. Care must be sought immediately if you suspect this condition, as it can lead to diabetic coma and, at worst, death (this is very rare today). Ketoacidosis has the following symptoms (symptoms):
- One generally feels very bad
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the stomach (abdominal pain)
- Extremely thirsty, urinates very much
- Breath smells like acetone
- Confusion, decreased consciousness
It usually begins with increased thirst, dry mouth, increased urination – and then symptoms increase and more severe symptoms (list above) occur.
What is the cause of ketoacidosis?
Severe lack of insulin leads to severe dehydration while the body becomes acidic because the breakdown of fats leads to the production of acids. It is common that there is a trigger factor leading to the development of ketoacidosis. The trigger factor is not infrequently an infection (which can be absolutely harmless in itself).
People who have type 1 diabetes who are treated for the disease may still develop type 1 diabetes in certain scenarios. This applies, again, in some infections, if you disagree with insulin, if you are seriously ill (for another reason), if you eat a lot of cortisone, if you use drugs, during pregnancy, etc.
- Complications of diabetes mellitus
- About type 1 diabetes