Type one diabetes or T1D for short is an autoimmune disease. About 3 people get it every day which is about 1,000 people every year. There is currently no found cure but there is a way to manage it. Today I will be talking about what an autoimmune disease is, what type one diabetes is, and how type one diabetes is treated.
An autoimmune disease is not something like a cold. A cold you can get from other people and is caused by germs, while any autoimmune disease is caused by some sort of trigger in your body. For example cancer is an autoimmune disease, it is caused by an accidental mutation on your cells. But unlike cancer, diabetes is part of someone's genetic code, then is triggered by a sickness which causes the autoimmune disease to begin.
Type one diabetes is caused when your immune system gets confused and starts to attack your pancreas which is an organ just below your stomach. The pancreas makes two important hormones, insulin and glucose. The pancreas uses these to control your blood sugar which is a main ingredient in what your cells use to get energy, insulin allows your cells to collect blood sugar lowering it and glucose is essentially blood sugar so your blood sugar gets raised. The reason both are needed is because there is a certain range blood sugar needs to be at, if your blood sugar goes too out of range you can die. So once your immune system attacks your pancreas it will stop making insulin and glucose, and because food gives you blood sugar it will start going up, or you will start having high blood sugar. Which in extreme cases starts leading to extreme hunger and thirst, having to go to the bathroom a lot, energy depletion, and fruity breath.
Because a person with T1D no longer has a working pancreas, he or she has to start taking insulin shots to keep in range. A person with type one diabetes will take insulin when he or she eats or has a high blood sugar. When too much insulin is used that person will start to have low blood sugar, which includes the symptoms of shakiness, dizziness, difficulty thinking and or speaking, and hunger. Low blood sugar is treated by eating something with less than 15 carbohydrates without having insulin for it. Thanks to modern technology there are devices such as a CGM which tells your blood sugar every 5 minutes or so, and an insulin pump which can automatically give insulin but it doesn't mean that the person will no longer have to manage their diabetes. You can support someone with T1D by respecting them when they have to stop playing because they have low blood sugar instead of being offended or annoyed.
Today we learned what an autoimmune disease is, what diabetes is, and how diabetes is treated. Diabetes may have no cure but there are millions of people managing their diabetes today. I hope you learned something new today and that if you ever have a friend with T1D you can understand what they are going through.