Friday, December 19, 2008

Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes type 1 is a form of diabetes mellitus. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that results in destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Thus far, such destruction has been permanent, but there is informed speculation that reversing the immune system malfunction may allow recovery of beta cell function. Healthy people has between 70 and 120 mg/dL glucose level in the blood, but when insulin is lacking, there is an increase of fasting blood glucose, that begins to appear in the urine above the renal threshold, about 190-200mg/dl, thus connecting to the symptom by which the disease was identified in antiquity, sweet urine. Glycosuria or glucose in the urine causes the patients to urinate more frequently, and drink more than normal (polydipsia).

Type 1 diabetes is lethal unless treatment with exogenous insulin, usually via injections which replaces the missing hormone formerly produced by the now non-functional beta cells in the pancreas. In recent years, pancreas transplants have also been used to treat Type 1 diabetes. Islet cell transplant is also being investigated and has been achieved in mice and rats, and in experimental trials in humans as well. Use of stem cells to produce a new population of functioning beta cells seems to be a future possibility, but has yet to be demonstrated even in laboratories as of 2008.

Although type 1 diabetes was formerly known as "childhood", "juvenile" or "insulin-dependent" diabetes, it is not exclusively a childhood problem as the adult incidence of Type 1 is noteworthy. Many adults who contract Type 1 diabetes are sometimes misdiagnosed with Type 2 due to confusion on this point.