Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes: how to detect it and what are the treatments?

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What is diabetes ?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects around 4.5 million French people. According to the French Federation of Diabetics (FFD), diabetes is defined as ” a disorder in the assimilation, use and storage of sugars provided by food.

Explanations: the sugars that we consume (these are the famous “carbohydrates” on food labels) are naturally transformed into glucose after passing through the intestine and then into the bloodstream.

The pancreas detects the rise in blood sugar, that is to say the increase in the level of sugar in the blood: the islets of Langerhans (these are the beta cells of the pancreas) then produce insulin, a hormone ” key “that allows glucose to enter body cells, where it will be processed and stored. In the case of diabetes, this system does not work or does not work well.

What is the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?

To know. In France, around 3.7 million people have diabetes. Of these, around 6% have type 1 diabetes and 92% have type 2 diabetes – the remaining 2% have more rare diabetes.

We are talking about type 1 diabetes (or “insulin-dependent diabetes”) when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. In fact: the beta cells that make up the islets of Langerhans are destroyed by the body. It is therefore an autoimmune disease. Glucose cannot enter cells and remains stagnant in the blood.

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According to the French Federation of Diabetics (FFD), “ for 20 years, the number of people with type 1 diabetes has increased by 3% to 4% per year and appears more and more early (…). The causes of this progression remain unexplained, but environmental factors associated with genetic and nutritional factors are identified / incriminated. “.

We are talking about Type 2 diabetes (or “non-insulin-dependent diabetes”) when the pancreas makes insufficient insulin for the blood sugar level (insulinopenia) or when the insulin is not effective enough (insulin resistance) to lower blood sugar in the blood.

Type 1 diabetes: causes and risk factors

To know. Unlike type 2 diabetes, which appears around 40-50 years of age, type 1 diabetes is a disease that occurs mainly in children, adolescents and young adults before the age of 20 – sometimes even as early as the age of 6 months.

The precise causes of type 1 diabetes are poorly understood. However, in addition to genetic vulnerability (thus, if both parents have type 1 diabetes, the child will have an approximately 30% risk of having the disease), certain risk factors have been identified. Thus, the risk of developing type 1 diabetes is greater after:

  • An autoimmune disease: non-infectious meningitis or encephalitis, for example,
  • A big shock: a car accident, for example,
  • Cancer or cancerous tumor of the pancreas.

Type 1 diabetes: what are the symptoms?

To know. Type 1 diabetes is a potentially fatal disease if left untreated. Indeed: the body being unable to use glucose, it is the fats stored in the body that are burned to serve as “fuel”. However, this process results in the formation of waste (acetone) which, when it accumulates, can lead to coma and then death.

In addition, if left untreated, type 1 diabetes increases the risk of having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) by a factor of 3 to 5.

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Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by:

  • Intense thirst,
  • Rapid weight loss,
  • Abundant urine and / or enuresis (bedwetting) in the child.

Diabetes (whether type 1 or type 2) is defined by chronic hyperglycemia, that is to say a level of sugar in the blood that is constantly too high. We speak of diabetes when the fasting blood sugar level is equal to or greater than 1.26 g / L.

Type 1 diabetes: diagnosis and treatment

Diagnostic. The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes begins with a clinical examination, completed by a blood test (to measure blood sugar) and the measurement of antibodies specifically directed against the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas (anti- GAD, anti-islet of Langherhans antibody) …

Treatments. As the French Federation of Diabetics explains, ” the only treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin, which is essential for life “. The treatment of type 1 diabetes is therefore based on subcutaneous injections of insulin (insulin therapy), several times a day, to compensate for its lack of production by the body.

Type 1 diabetics can thus have recourse toinsulin “spring” (distributed throughout the body for 24 hours, often using an automated pump) and / or“fast” insulin (injected using a syringe or a pen, in the thigh, stomach or arm, it has an immediate and short-term action which makes it possible, for example, to compensate for a large meal) to balance their blood sugar.

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And also. In patients with diabetes for several years whose disease is no longer balanced by insulin therapy, a transplant of islets of Langerhans in the liver may be proposed. As a last resort, a pancreas transplant can be done – a very heavy operation, considered only in extreme cases.

Thanks to the French Federation of Diabetics (FFD).

Source : Inserm

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