10 Facts About Type 1 Diabetes

10 facts about type 1 diabetes. Image courtesy of the Nursing Times.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin. Without sufficient insulin, glucose levels build up in the blood and become too high, resulting in potentially life-threating symptoms. Read on to learn 10 interesting facts about type 1 diabetes.

1. T1D is less common than other forms of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes; approximately 5-10% of people living with diabetes have type 1. However, type 1 diabetes is far from a rare disease. According to Beyond Type 1, In the United States alone, 1.6 million Americans live with T1D, and an estimated 64,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year. In fact, it is estimated that 5 million people will be diagnosed with T1D by 2050.

2. T1D is often diagnosed at a young age

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age. Because type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction, the destruction of beta cells can go on for months or even years before any symptoms appear in the patient. Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed through a simple blood test, such as an A1C test, which measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher indicates you have diabetes.

3. There are several risk factors for T1D

Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, certain genes can make you more susceptible to developing T1D. Studies have shown, for example, that children with a genetic predisposition for and a family history of type 1 diabetes have more than a 1 in 5 risk for developing this autoimmune disease.

However, many people with these genes won’t go on to develop the condition even if they have a genetic predisposition. For that reason, environmental triggers, such as exposure to viruses, are also thought to play a part in the development of type 1 diabetes. Contrary to popular belief, diet and lifestyle habits do not cause type 1 diabetes.

4. Insulin is key to managing diabetes

T1D patients need to take insulin shots, or wear an insulin pump, every day to manage their blood sugar levels and get the energy their body needs. Patients with type 1 diabetes should work with their doctor to determine the most effective type of insulin and dosage that are right for them. Types of insulin range from ultra rapid-acting insulin, to rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, long-acting, and ultra long-acting.

In addition, T1D patients also need to check their blood sugar levels regularly. By keeping their blood sugar levels close to a target determined by their physician, patients can prevent or delay further complications. Blood sugar levels can be monitored through the use of a blood glucose monitor and finger sticks, or a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system.

5. T1D causes a variety of symptoms

Type 1 diabetes symptoms can vary from patient to patient. According to the Mayo Clinic, some signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes include: increased thirst, frequent urination, bed-wetting in children, extreme hunger, unintended weight loss, bacterial and fungal infections of the mouth, gum disease, irritability and mood changes, fatigue and weakness, and blurred vision.

Another common complication of type 1 diabetes is hypoglycemia, otherwise known as low blood sugar. This occurs when the patient has too much insulin, or has waited too long for a meal or snack, or simply hasn’t eaten enough food. It can also be caused by getting extra physical activity.

6. T1D can be disabling

Type 1 diabetes can result in complications affecting various bodily systems. For example, T1D can cause nerve damage, also known as neuropathy. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, burning or pain in one’s extremities. This can also cause gastrointestinal issues, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. In men, erectile dysfunction can be an issue.

Foot damage may also occur, as a result of poor blood flow to or nerve damage in the feet. If not treated, cuts and blisters in the feet can turn into serious infections that may require limb amputation.

T1D may also cause kidney damage, resulting in kidney failure or irreversible end-state kidney disease, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

It’s less commonly known that type 1 diabetes can also cause eye damage. The blood vessels of the retina become damaged (called diabetic retinopathy), potentially causing blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing other vision conditions, like cataracts and glaucoma.

7. T1D can be life-threatening

Type 1 diabetes can in fact be life-threatening. For instance, T1D can cause cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, chest pain (angina), atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), heart attack, and stroke.

Another life-threatening complication of type 1 diabetes is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a state in which your body cannot use the sugar in its bloodstream to produce energy, so it starts to break down fat as fuel. This causes ketones to be released into the body. If the level of ketones in your body becomes excessively high, this can result in a coma or even death. Some warning signs of DKA include dehydration, extreme thirst, flushed skin, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, shortness of breath, fruity-smelling breath, and disorientation.

8. Lifestyle changes can make a difference

Although type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by poor diet or lifestyle habits, maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can go a long way to improving your overall health and wellbeing. Such habits include stress reduction, getting sufficient sleep, making healthy food choices, being physically active, and controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Maintaining a close working relationship with your medical care team, and regularly attending your appointments, are also important in managing your type 1 diabetes. Your care team may include your primary care physician, endocrinologist, podiatrist (foot doctor), ophthalmologist and optometrist (eye doctors), dentist, pharmacist, registered dietician, and more.

9. Type 1 diabetes can develop during pregnancy

Type 1 diabetes may develop in women who are pregnant, a condition referred to as gestational diabetes. This occurs when blood sugar levels become high during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects up to 10% of women who are pregnant in the US each year. While gestational diabetes does go away after giving birth, it can impact your baby’s health, and raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

10. There is hope

If you are a type 1 diabetes patient, it’s important to get the support and resources you need to manage daily life with the condition. Here are a few resources that may help:

Thank you for stopping by Autoimmune Warrior. If this article was informative to you, please like, share, and comment below!

Top 5 Must-Have Products for Dry Mouth | Sjogren’s Syndrome Series

Living with dry mouth can cause an array of complications. Image courtesy of Orthodontic Excellence.

As many of my subscribers know, I have an autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome. One of the main symptoms of Sjogren’s is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia.

While those with adequate saliva levels may not think that this is a big deal, us dry mouth sufferers know that even a small amount of mouth dryness can wreck havoc on your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, mouth dryness can cause an array of health issues, including mouth sores (ulcers), oral thrush (a yeast infection in your mouth), increased dental decay, tooth loss, gum disease, bad breath, issues with chewing, swallowing and speech, loss of taste, and poor nutrition and digestion.

In fact, one of the reasons I first got diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome was because of my mouth dryness. I had gone to the dentist, and I was told that I had eight cavities (yes, eight!) when I had never had a single cavity in the entire 20 years of my life. Not only that, but I had a thick coating of white gunk of my tongue (yuck!), and my dentist told me that I had oral thrush. I had to take prescription antibacterial mouthwash to get rid of the yeast infection in my mouth. Finally, I was having issues with talking and swallowing food, especially if it was dry food, like crackers or chips. I was drinking loads of water each night, but nothing seemed to alleviate my thirst.

After I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s, I understood that mouth dryness was a large part of living with this chronic autoimmune disease. I was prescribed pilocarpine (the generic for Salagen) to help stimulate saliva production. However, it took an array of dry mouth solutions to help alleviate my mouth dryness. Here are my top 5 products that I would recommend for other dry mouth suffers, below.

1. Alcohol-Free Mouthwash

My first recommendation would be to switch to using an alcohol-free mouthwash. If you suffer from dry mouth, you probably know just how drying alcohol can be. Also, if you have a dry mouth, you are likely extra sensitive to how harsh an alcohol-based mouthwash is.

My go-to mouthwash is Biotene’s Dry Mouth Oral Rinse. It helps to keep bad breath from dry mouth at bay, and helps my mouth feel more moisturized after I’ve brushed my teeth and rinsed with it. It sounds strange, but I’ve found that I sleep better at night when my mouth doesn’t feel so dry. Plus, it keeps me from having to get up in the middle of the night to drink gallons of water!

Biotene Oral Rinse Mouthwash for Dry Mouth, Breath Freshener and Dry Mouth Treatment, Fresh Mint – 33.8 fl oz

2. XyliMelts

XyliMelts are kind of like cough drops, since they’re hard discs that you can suck on to stimulate saliva production, alleviate dry mouth, and freshen your breath. Unlike cough drops, however, they’re sugar-free (they contain xylitol), so they won’t cause dental decay, which is important for dry mouth sufferers.

Since there isn’t any chewing involved (unlike gum), they easily melt in my mouth, providing me with long-lasting dryness relief. Before I started working from home, I found that these were great to take into the office and keep in my desk drawer, so I wasn’t having to chug water all the time!

Xylimelts – Mint 40 Ct

3. Moisturizing Mouth Gel

The next must-have dry mouth product on my list would be a moisturizing mouth gel. A moisturizing mouth gel is basically a saliva replacement, that you can squirt into your dry mouth to make it feel more comfortable.

Though it doesn’t have the exact same texture as real saliva, and lacks the enzymes found in it (which aid digestion), I have found that using a saliva replacement helps me sleep through the night without having to wake up to constantly drink more water. It also makes wearing my night guard/retainer at night more comfortable. Plus, it can help during the daytime if I’m having a particularly bad day, in which my mouth dryness is affecting my speech and making my voice hoarse.

Again, my go-to product comes from the brand Biotene: the Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Balance Gel. I find it is the most saliva-like among the different brands I’ve tried (the first brand I tried had the texture of toothpaste!)

3 Pack Biotene Oral Balance Dry Mouth Moisturizing Gel 1.5 oz soothe oral tissues long

4. Electric Toothbrush

If you suffer from dry mouth, a regular toothbrush just won’t make the cut. In addition to frequently visiting your dentist and dental hygienist for regular check-ups and cleanings, it’s important to take steps in your own oral hygiene routine to prevent dental caries (teeth cavities) from developing.

I’ve used several different tooth brushes over the years, and my top two would be from Oral B and Philips. These high-powered electric toothbrushes give me a deep clean, and prevent plaque from building up on my teeth and my gums from developing gingivitis. So, if you’re using a manual toothbrush still, it’s time to upgrade to some better technology.

Philips Sonicare, HX687721 ProtectiveClean 6100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, White, 1 Count

Oral-B Smart 1500 Electric Power Rechargeable Battery Toothbrush, Blue

5. Chapstick for Dry Lips

If you have severe dry mouth, you’ll know that sometimes your lips can get extremely dry too, even to the point where they crack at the corners and bleed! I also have a skin condition called eczema (oh, joy!) which further contributes to dryness and skin peeling around my mouth/lip area. That’s why I regularly use chapstick to keep my lips feeling moisturized and healthy.

My favorite natural chapstick brand has got to be Burt’s Bees. It’s made out of real beeswax, rather than synthetic chemicals (like the ones found in most lipsticks), which can dry out your lips even more. Plus, they come in lots of great flavors, like coconut and pear, vanilla bean and strawberry, so your lips will never be bored!

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Origin Moisturizing Lip Balm, Multipack with Beeswax & Fruit Extracts, 4 Tubes

These five dry mouth products have made a big difference in improving my quality of life with Sjogren’s Syndrome. Though everyone has a different regimen that works best for them, I truly hope that this blog post helps you find dry mouth solutions that work for you. And let us know in the comments below: what dry mouth products do you use to help alleviate your dryness symptoms?

Remember, always talk to your doctor before beginning a new medication, regimen, or treatment plan. Please read Autoimmune Warrior’s product recommendations disclaimer on our About Us page regarding our participation in Amazon’s Associates Program.