What is T1D?
Diabetes is a major cause of death worldwide and is becoming an important public health challenge on a global scale and the number of people being diagnosed with the disease continues to rise. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without insulin, sugar remains in the blood and can cause severe damage to the body.
Type 1 Diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all cases of diabetes where there are approximately three hundred thousand people in Canada both children and adults living with Type 1 Diabetes. Unlike type 2 diabetes that can be managed with exercise, diet and medication, those suffering from type 1 diabetes need to inject insulin daily to remain alive. As of today, there is no known cause for type 1 diabetes nor is it preventable, studies suggest that it results from genetic predisposition combined with environmental triggers.
Current therapy for Type 1 Diabetes is insulin injections which was created in 1929 by Canadian researchers Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best. Prior to 1929, those diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes were faced with the reality of an untimely death. The current therapy is insulin as it helps the body convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Insulin is taken multiple times throughout the day and is measured depending on one’s sugar levels which needs to be monitored several times throughout the day. It’s extremely difficult to keep one’s sugar levels in control with today’s therapy as it depends on several different factors such as, the amount of carbohydrates one consumes, physical activity, stress, puberty and much more. It is a constant balancing act between all of the above-mentioned factors. The available tools are great to help us manage diabetes, but they do not eradicate the disease.
If Type 1 Diabetes is left untreated, patients can suffer from a variety of life-threatening complications such as blindness, stroke, amputations, kidney and heart failure. Notwithstanding the fact that Type 1 diabetics have a life span that is shortened by ten to fifteen years due to the long-term complications, what brings with this disease is the constant worry that one’s sugars may drop too low and consequently result in a coma and eventual death.