According to abbreviationfinder, DM1 stands for Diabetes Mellitus Type 1. With 400,000 people in Germany, significantly fewer people suffer from the autoimmune disease, which is also known as type 1 diabetes mellitus, than type 2 diabetes mellitus.
What is Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus?
Even if type 1 diabetes melltius cannot be cured, the advanced medicine enables patients to lead a long life with a high quality of life.
In the autoimmune disease diabetes mellitus type 1, the body’s immune system turns against and destroys the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. The production of insulin can no longer be continued and the hormone ceases to exist within a very short time.
This process can have fatal consequences because the hormone insulin is responsible for breaking down the sugar that was absorbed into the blood through food and using it for energy production. If the insulin cells are destroyed, the sugar builds up in the veins, causing the blood sugar level to skyrocket.
The cause of an autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes mellitus is usually an autoimmune reaction (destruction of the insulin cells in the pancreas).
The reason why the immune system turns against the B cells to produce insulin is still unclear. It has so far been assumed that certain hereditary factors play a role in this process. However, this assumption has not been adequately proven, which is why researchers also include in their investigations the environmental factors under which an autoimmune reaction can be triggered.
According to this, the outbreak of type 1 diabetes mellitus can be significantly favored by early contact with cow’s milk and some viruses.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
If around 80 percent of the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed, the body no longer has enough insulin available to transport the sugar into the cells as an energy supplier. The first symptoms become noticeable within days or a few weeks.
The sugar that remains in the blood due to the lack of insulin is excreted by the body in the urine. An increased need to urinate and a constant feeling of thirst are therefore typical symptoms of type 1 diabetes. In addition, the disturbed fluid balance can be reflected in dry, itchy skin as well as visual disturbances and headaches.
As less and less sugar gets into the cells, the body falls back on the fat reserves. This can lead to rapid weight loss, but also to sweet cravings. Fatigue, weakness and difficulty concentrating are other complaints.
In addition, diabetes affects the immune system, which leads to an increased susceptibility to infections and poorer wound healing. In type 1 diabetes, the urine and breath have a sour, fruity smell of acetone.
Acute symptoms are life-threatening disturbances of consciousness. The progressive lack of sugar in the cells can lead to a diabetic coma (hyperacidity), which is heralded by nausea, vomiting and deep breathing (acetone odor). Too high an insulin dose in the case of type 1 diabetes that has already been diagnosed can in turn end in diabetic shock (hypoglycaemia), which is accompanied by sudden hunger, sweating, paleness and palpitations.
The autoimmune disease type 1 diabetes mellitus is particularly dangerous because it only becomes noticeable insidiously. It usually starts in early childhood. The symptoms can only appear years later, although the antibodies that destroy the insulin cells can be detected in the blood years before the first symptoms appear. The disease can be detected by simply measuring the sugar concentration.
With the rise in blood sugar levels and evidence of glucose in the urine, the first symptoms of type 1 diabetes mellitus can also become noticeable. These include urination, thirst, tiredness, itching, weight loss, acetone odor, gastrointestinal problems and diabetic coma.
When the body by the strong fluid loss and by an increasing ketone body an acidification has reached the organism makes itself by deep breaths to carbon dioxide output noticeable. In this condition, the patient must get medical help immediately, as the increasing dehydration of the brain causes the patient to become comatose.
If no therapy is given, the patient will fall into a diabetic coma due to the lack of fluids and excess acidity. The disease then has to be monitored in the intensive care unit and is therefore life-threatening.
When should you go to the doctor?
A doctor must be consulted as soon as at least one sugar coma (hyperglycaemia) has occurred. The same applies if you have frequent low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia). However, a general practitioner should be contacted as soon as an elevated glucose level is detected.
This is particularly advisable for children who are overweight. The development of type I diabetes mellitus can still be averted through proper nutrition and healthy weight loss. Which doctor will perform treatment depends on the reason why the disease arose.
If there are reversible causes, a general practitioner can oversee the treatment. However, if the disease occurs suddenly, e.g. due to traumatic experiences, an internist specializing in diabetes should be consulted. An exact diagnosis can only be made by a specially trained specialist. The latest findings show that there is also a non-adjustable type I with mixed forms.
If this is suspected, a medical professional should be seen who is familiar with it. Often it is necessary to change doctors several times. There is no need to shy away from this, as otherwise wrong tips and negative effects such as weight gain and deterioration in health are to be feared.
Treatment & Therapy
If the symptoms of type 1 diabetes mellitus are recognized in good time, adequate therapy can be used to alleviate the symptoms and restore the accustomed quality of life. Various forms of therapy are used for treatment, which must be continued for a lifetime.
With conventional insulin therapy, the patient has to inject one short and one long-acting insulin preparation twice a day. Meals depend on the dose of insulin injected. To be on the safe side, the patient must undergo regular blood tests and examinations.
The intensified insulin therapy offers type 1 diabetes mellitus patients a certain amount of flexibility, because by injecting two long-acting doses, the patient can freely choose the time of his meals.
Modern insulin pump therapy makes it easier to dose the amount injected, which is injected directly into the belly fat through the catheter. Because of this, this form of therapy is particularly suitable for small children.
Outlook & forecast
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is incurable. The patients have to be looked after by a doctor for the rest of their lives, have their blood sugar level checked regularly and are dependent on insulin.
The complications that can be caused by poorly controlled diabetes are decisive for the course of the disease. Overall, women and men have a higher risk than the normal population of dying prematurely from these complications.
Consequential damage to the cardiovascular system such as heart attack or stroke are among the most common complications of diabetes mellitus. They make a significant contribution to reducing the life expectancy of diabetics. Another complication that can shorten life is kidney failure in diabetic nephropathy.
Good kidney function has been shown to improve the patient’s prognosis. Especially in younger years, with diabetes not yet optimally controlled, the derailment of blood sugar and its consequences represent a possible cause of death. This leads to over-acidification of the blood due to a lack of insulin (diabetic ketoacidosis), which can quickly be fatal.
Overall, however, the life expectancy for type 1 diabetics has increased steadily over the last few years and decades thanks to improved medication, close controls and targeted training for those affected.
For type 1 diabetes mellitus, unlike type 2, there is no preventive measure. However, a measurement of the antibodies and the sugar concentration in the blood can predict whether someone will develop type 1 diabetes mellitus.
You can do that yourself
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a genetic autoimmune disease that leads to the gradual destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This means that if the disease is not recognized, the blood sugar level gradually rises to values above the norm due to the insulin deficiency and can cause consequential damage.
Self-help measures initially consist of attentive self-observation in the event that further cases of type 1 diabetes are known in the family. In the event of symptoms such as increased thirst for no apparent reason, frequent urination, weight loss and general fatigue, it is advisable to have the blood sugar concentration measured and, if suspicion is confirmed, to arrange for a detailed examination.
If type 1 diabetes has already been diagnosed, the most important goal is to optimally adjust the blood sugar level via insulin therapy in order to avoid consequential damage to the blood vessels, in the retina, to the coronary arteries and especially in the kidneys, or to heal the course of existing damage as far as possible, but at least stop. As an accompanying and supportive measure, it is recommended to keep the blood pressure as low as possible, especially to support kidney function.
Since type 1 diabetes, as a genetically caused disease, cannot be cured, lifelong insulin therapy is recommended, which consists of a combination of long and short-acting insulin and is applied directly to the belly fat.