By Briana Davis, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
SAN ANTONIO - Each year, more than 30,000 adults and children in the U.S. are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a progressive autoimmune (the body’s system for protecting itself from viruses and bacteria) disease that is most often diagnosed in people under the age of 30.
Individuals with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, a hormone essential for converting starches and sugars in food into energy in the body. Type 1 differs from type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by a reduction in the production of insulin or an eventual intolerance/resistance to the effects of insulin. There is currently no cure for this condition, and if left untreated, type 1 diabetes can result in disabling and life-threatening complications.
Type 1 diabetes occurs after an immune reaction in the body mistakenly destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This reaction prevents the body from producing adequate amounts of insulin, to enable glucose to enter cells in the body to produce energy. The exact cause of type 1 is unknown, but research suggests that both genetic predisposition and environmental factors play a role in its development.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often develop rapidly. Individuals may experience unusual thirst, especially for sweet, cold drinks, frequent urination (in children, recurrent bed-wetting may be a common occurrence), sudden weight loss, extreme hunger, extreme fatigue, blurred vision or other changes in eyesight and unconsciousness.
Early detection and treatment are crucial to the lifelong health of a diabetic individual. There are several ways to diagnose type 1 diabetes, but currently the best detection tool is a blood test called Glycated hemoglobin (A1C), which indicates average blood sugar (glucose) levels over a three-month period of time.
Once diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it is essential to establish an effective treatment plan right away. A successful plan will focus on keeping glucose levels in a healthy range. This can be done through a combination of regular exercise, healthy diet, frequent glucose monitoring and insulin therapy. Individuals with type 1 diabetes will require lifelong insulin therapy.
There are many types of insulin available on the market. They often include rapid-acting, long-acting and intermediate acting insulin. A physician may prescribe a mixture of insulin types to use throughout the day, depending on individual needs. Insulin cannot be taken orally, and must be injected. This process can be done using a fine needled syringe, a pre-filled insulin pen or an insulin pump.
If left untreated, type 1 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease as well as damage to the kidneys and eyes. The risk of bacterial and fungal infections is also increased and individuals with untreated type 1 may experience lower than normal bone density, an early sign of osteoporosis. Early and continued treatment is important to the health of a type 1 diabetic.
Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. is currently looking for people with type 1 diabetes to participate in a research study. If you would like to learn more about this study, please call 210-949-0122 or visit us at SAresearch.com