Diabetes Type 1

type-1-diabetes-19063415Diabetes type I is a form of diabetes mellitus in which the pancreas is not able to produce insulin resulting in high blood sugar levels. In a normal person cells in the pancreas, known as the Islets of Langerhans, produce insulin when blood glucose levels are high, for example drinking a sugary drink. The insulin then binds onto certain cells in the body and allows the glucose to enter these cells and be used for energy.

Without this ability to take up glucose, diabetes type I sufferers have to find energy from other sources such as fat and muscle, resulting in weight loss. This can lead to a serious short-term condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, where the bloodstream becomes acidic and you develop dangerous levels of dehydration. The reason why the pancreas cannot produce insulin is due to the body thinking these Islets of Langerhans are foreign. This result in the body’s own immune system attacking these group of cells.

The causes of diabetes are unknown but it is thought it is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It has been difficult to narrow down which genes cause type I diabetes but at the moment there are 50 known genes associated with it. Environmental factors have been shown to affect type I diabetes. This was shown by identical twins with the same genes but only one of them having type I diabetes.