What is Type 1 Diabetes?
In Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, or it produces very little. Although the exact reason for this isn’t fully understood, scientists do know, that the body’s defense system (immune system) attacks and destroys its own insulin-producing cells (Beta cells), which is why they can’t produce more insulin. This usually occurs in children and young people, which is why it’s also known as juvenile Diabetes.
As we need insulin to live, people with Type 1 Diabetes need to inject insulin daily to metabolize the food they eat, which is why it’s also called insulin-dependent Diabetes.
Why is insulin important?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the Beta cells of the pancreas, whose function is to allow glucose to enter into cells. In other words, insulin is like a key that opens the door to the cells, allowing glucose to enter and be used as fuel for energy, keeping blood glucose levels within the normal range (70-100mg/dl).
Unfortunately, for people with Type 1 Diabetes, Beta cells don’t produce insulin. With no insulin in the body, the cell door can’t be opened. When glucose can’t enter the cells, in addition to not be used as fuel or energy, it remains in the bloodstream causing blood-sugar levels to rise more and more. Therefore, people with Type 1 Diabetes, require insulin to allow glucose to enter their cells.
The goal of people with Type 1 Diabetes, is to keep their blood glucose levels (glycemia) as close to the normal range as possible (70-110mg/dl), which is why in most cases, they need to inject to take several types of insulin at different times of the day.
There are different types of insulin depending on their characteristics and these are: onset of action, or the moment when it starts to work, time of peek action, or the moment in which it exerts its greatest strength of action, and duration of action, or the time they remain in the bloodstream. Each type of insulin works differently: ultra-fast, fast, intermediate or NPH, slow, ultra-slow and basal action or Glargine. Your doctor will prescribe the type or types of insulin you need, and the times at which you need to apply it, depending on your specific requirements.
People with Type 1 Diabetes who keep an optimal control of their blood glucose levels (glycemia), can enjoy a healthy, productive and happy life.