Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affect the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels. Though glucose is an essential source of energy for our body to function normally, excessive levels can cause serious harm.
Genetic Risk Factors Of Type 1 Diabetes And Its Heredity
The chronic diabetic conditions can be of two types: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Though type 2 diabetes is found to dominate among the two, type 1 diabetes is not to be neglected. The prevalence of type 1 diabetes is increasing worldwide across all age groups not to mention that diabetes mellitus is likely to affect more than 300 million people considering its epidemic proportions.
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by excessively high blood sugar levels. In this type of diabetes, specialized pancreatic cells called the islet beta cells to cease the production of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps the body cells take in glucose to be used for energy. Lack of insulin results in the cells being unable to take up glucose for energy. As a result, the blood sugar levels become excessively high.
If Type 1 diabetes is unsuppressed, it can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Here is how this condition arises. As insulin production is inhibited, the cells become unable to use the glucose released into the blood. As a result, the cells break down fats in order to obtain energy. When fats are broken down, a waste byproduct will be produced called ketones. Increased breakdown of fats will naturally result in increased ketones, whose buildup can result in diabetic ketoacidosis. Severe forms of this disease can even be fatal.
Initially, the signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:
- Frequent urination.
- Excessive hunger and thirst
- Weight loss.
- Mood changes
- Blurred vision
Other symptoms include headache, hunger, sweating, fatigue, dizziness and irritability. These are caused by hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) that can result from poorly controlled blood sugar regulation treatments.
Genetic Risk Factors
The destruction of the islet beta cells occurs when the risk posing genes are triggered by their interaction with environmental factors. This risk is elevated by the variants of the HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1 genes, which play a major role in instructing the body to make proteins. These genes belong to a gene family called the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex. HLA complex plays a crucial role in the immune system by helping the body distinguish other proteins by viruses and bacteria from their own.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when this ability is lost due to which it is considered as an “autoimmune disorder”. These are conditions where the immune system attacks the tissues and organs in one’s own body. In consequence, the insulin-producing islet beta cells present in the pancreas are damaged.
There are other variations as well that have been found in the HLA genes. A combination of these called the haplotype are associated with a high risk of developing type 1 diabetes. But the risk can be even higher if it is in combination with the HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1 gene variants.
The HLA variations account for approximately 40 percent of the genetic risk associated with Type 1 diabetes. Other factors in the development of this disorder include environmental factors and variations in other genes, although most of them are unidentified.
Consequences Of Type I Diabetes
The extent to which Type I diabetes interferes with a person’s functioning depends on the severity of the condition. The following are some of the long term consequences of Type I diabetes:
- Heart and blood vessel disease
- Nerve damage
- Kidney damage
- Eye damage
- Foot damage
- Skin and mouth conditions
- Pregnancy complications
How To Prevent Type 1 Diabetes Complications?
Although it is not an easy task preventing the disease altogether, you can still keep in mind a few habits in order to reduce the impact of the condition on your life.
Regular exercise, following a nutritious diet, reducing stress can help you with the brain changes that come along with Type 1 diabetes. Eating low on carbs, quitting smoking and frequently monitoring blood pressure are all pretty simple tasks that we can do for better outcomes.