Type 1 Diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes are dependent on daily insulin injections for their survival.

Type 1 diabetes occurs most often in children, adolescents or young adults. Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes used to be called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin. People with type 1 diabetes are therefore dependent on daily insulin injections for their survival.

Causes

The exact causes of type 1 diabetes are still unknown. In most cases, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s immune system. We don’t know what triggers this attack or why it begins. Researchers believe that a genetic predisposition and certain environmental factors contribute to type 1 diabetes.

Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes

Only a laboratory blood test can determine the state of your health with certainty. The test measures the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Here are the suggested reference values for a diagnosis by the Canadian Diabetes Association 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes in Canada:

Fasting blood glucose level7 mmol/L or higher
Blood glucose level 2 hours after drinking a liquid containing 75 g of glucose11.1 mmol/L or higher
Blood glucose level at any time of day11.1 mmol/L or higher 

With classic symptoms of diabetes

Sometimes, a second blood test is necessary to confirm the initial results.

In rare cases, a test for type 1 antibody markers is done to confirm the type of diabetes.

The honeymoon period

We call it the honeymoon period because blood glucose (sugar) levels are easier to control.

Shortly after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, some people experience what is known as a honeymoon period. This transition period is characterized by a significant decline in the person’s need for insulin injections. It lasts from six to nine months, on average, but can last up to two years.

This phenomenon is due to the small amount of insulin still being secreted by the few remaining healthy pancreatic cells. Eventually, type 1 diabetes’s autoimmune action will completely destroy those cells. In the total absence of insulin secretion, blood glucose (sugar) levels will rise and the dosages of injected insulin will have to be increased accordingly.

 

Research and writing: Team of Diabetes Quebec Health Professionals.

May 2014 (updated on July 2018)

©All rights reserved Diabetes Quebec 

Reference:

Punthakee Z, Goldenberg R and Katz P. Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada: Definition, Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes, Prediabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Can J Diabetes 2018; 42 (Suppl 1): S10-S15.