Type 1 Diabetes Causes and Risk Factors

Type 1 Diabetes Causes

The ongoing debate about Type 2 diabetes causes frequently grabs newspaper headlines and ends up on the evening news, and everything from environment to diet is thought to play a role. However, much less is heard about diabetes mellitus Type 1, the much less common and often juvenile onset form of the condition in terms of what is behind its cause. Although both conditions are related in that they are characterized by the body’s inability to use or make insulin, they are very different in terms of causes. While lifestyle factors are often thought to be the blame in cases of the secondary kind, Type 1 diabetes causes are not as clear cut; nor are risk factors and therefore preventative measures.

Unlike Type 2 diabetes, where over time the body becomes resistant to the insulin it continues to produce, Type 1 of the condition is most often characterized by the destruction of the cells that produce insulin. It is thought that the immune system of the body is responsible for this cell destruction. However, this mechanism of action is about as far as the medical community has definitely gotten with regards Type 1 diabetes causes. It is not precisely known why the body’s immune system, normally reserved for fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses, turns on itself and destroys insulin producing cells.

There have been some breakthroughs regarding the underlying causes of the condition. While not definitive, they provide new knowledge about Type 1 diabetes causes that may make it easier to predict. For instance, we now know how important genetics are to the development of the condition. Certain people have the genetic coding that makes the formation of Type 1 diabetes possible. People without this genetic coding cannot end up with a diagnosis of diabetes.

Another interesting perspective on Type 1 diabetes causes has to do with viruses. People who have certain kinds of HLA (human leukocyte antigen) complexes that reside on chromosome 6 are more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes if they are exposed to certain viruses such as German measles, rotavirus and the mumps. The reason why is because of how the body tries to fight off these viruses. It is thought that these viruses have some of the same antigens as the the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Therefore when the body tries to fight off the invading virus, it fights its own cells as well. This process can take many years, but over time can lead to the total destruction of insulin producing cells.

A less well founded but perhaps interesting thought about Type 1 diabetes causes may further explain the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children. Since children tend to drink more milk than adults, the supposed link between the health condition and popular dairy drink is intriguing to say the least. While still speculative at best, some researchers believe that infants who drink cow’s milk may be more likely to develop the condition because of the similarity between the proteins in cow’s milk and those that are responsible for making T cells. It is thought that the infants’ body may attack both the milk proteins and those that make T cells because it can’t differentiate, which results in an over abundance of beta cell destruction.

The good news is that while there are still many questions surrounding Type 1 diabetes causes, advances in Type 1 diabetes treatment have made living with the condition exponentially easier. Solid medical care, appropriate medicine and lifestyle and dietary changes have made it much less challenging to live with the condition. However, treating Type 1 diabetes is sometimes different from treating the secondary and more common type of the disease.

Diabetes medications like insulin are imperative to the proper control and management of the first type of the condition. Part of this has to do with Type 1 diabetes causes. Because diet and lifestyle are not responsible for the body’s mismanagement of insulin in this condition in the first place, medication is the primary method of treatment as opposed to lifestyle and dietary changes, which can be hugely effective in persons with Type 2 diabetes.

Proper and diligent treatment of the condition is very important, because people with Type 1 are more likely to develop diabetes complications as a result of their disease. While all persons are at risk for some diabetes complications like diabetic neuropathy, those with Type 1 are more likely to encounter rare but potential complications such as a diabetic coma. The tendency towards complications may have something to do with underlying Type 1 diabetes causes and the amount of control that an individual has over their blood glucose levels.

All of the answers surrounding Type 1 diabetes causes are still unclear. We are just now starting to get a basic understanding of what happens in the body that causes it to destroy its own insulin manufacturing cells. Until definitive answers are established, Type 1 diabetes treatment helps people live normal and healthy lives. There is no cure for Type 1 of the disease, and treatment is all that is available. Luckily, while the medical community has yet to provide a preventative solution or a cure, Type 1 diabetes treatment advances have made living with the condition much more tolerable.