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Insulin dependant diabetes



What are the causes of Insulin dependant diabetes?

 Insulin dependent diabetes, also called type-I diabetes, is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks and destroys the patientís own pancreatic beta-cells, which are responsible for the production and secretion of insulin, the main hormone involved in blood glucose regulation.

 Type-1 diabetes is different from the more common type-2, which is mainly related to lifestyle factors such as obesity or overweight and physical inactivity, and does not involve the immune system. Type-1 diabetes accounts for only 5% of diabetes cases, but it begins earlier and progresses more rapidly than type-2 diabetes.

In type-1 diabetes, the body is not able to produce insulin, due to the destruction of the insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreas. Insulin plays a crucial role in maintaining blood glucose levels and allowing the bodyís cells to take in glucose to be used as energy or stored as glycogen or fat, which are the main energy stores in the body. Without insulin, the bodyís cells are not able to take in glucose, whose blood levels consequently increase.

 Both the persistently high blood glucose (which is the hallmark feature of diabetes) and the inability of the bodyís cells to use blood glucose, result in damage to all body system and organs, especially heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes. That is why diabetes is not only a disease of the pancreas, but a disease affecting the entire body.

What are the symptoms of Insulin dependant diabetes?

 The symptoms of type-1 diabetes, which usually develop quickly, can include increased thirsty, frequent urination, weight loss despite increased hunger and food intake, fatigue and blurred vision. Symptoms involving the heart, nerves and kidneys usually develop later, as long-term complications of high blood glucose levels. They can include atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, nerve damage, kidney failure, increased susceptibility to infections, vision problems and sometimes blindness. So it is clear that, to avoid these complications, control of blood glucose levels is paramount.

 Insulin dependent diabetes has no cure at the moment, nor can it be prevented. But, fortunately, it can be managed. The treatment of type-1 diabetes is lifelong and involves the mandatory use of insulin therapy for survival. There are many types of insulin, both rapid-acting and long-acting. In any case, insulin cannot be taken by mouth, because digestive enzymes would destroy it, but it has to be taken by injection or through a special device called insulin pump.

 Other important elements in the treatment of type-1 diabetes include: adopting a healthy diet (low in fat, cholesterol and sugar, and rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains), getting physical activity and regularly self-monitoring blood glucose levels throughout the day.  

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