Type 1 diabetes is caused by failure of insulin secretion from the pancreas. Lack of insulin causes rise in the blood sugar levels (glucose). Glucose is a fuel, which the cells of the body use to generate energy for the proper functioning. Deficiency of insulin output in Type 1 diabetes prevents effective uptake and utilisation of glucose in blood. Therefore, the blood sugar (glucose) level increases and glucose spills from blood into the urine. As glucose is not used efficiently and spills into the urine, people with untreated Type 1 diabetes develop symptoms such as:
- Increased thirst: Rise in blood sugar levels causes fluids to move out your cells. This makes you feel thirsty.Frequent urination: The rise in blood sugar, which causes fluids to move out of the cells and you to drink more fluid gives rise to a an urge to urinate more frequently than usual. The increased frequency of urination is present both during the day as well as night.
- Increased hunger: diabetes makes the body inefficient in to using glucose in the blood (due to lack of insulin), therefore, the cells become deprived of an energy source and you feel hungry more frequently than usual.
- Weight loss: As glucose is not used efficiently by the body and gets spilt into the urine, it causes loss of nutrient from body and weight loss (although appetite often increases).
- Blurred vision: Elevated glucose levels in the blood leads to loss of fluid from the lenses of the eyes, thereby affecting your ability to focus and see clearly.
- Dry, itchy skin.
- Fatigue or drowsiness.
- Vomiting and nausea.
In type 1 diabetes, the symptoms develop rapidly and over a brief period of time, therefore, these symptoms may be mistaken initially for a virus in the stomach (because of nausea, vomiting and pain in the abdomen).
Diabetic ketoacidosis: When the cells cannot use blood glucose for energy, they start using fats as energy source. The process of burning fat for energy causes formation of ketones, which are toxic to the body and can even be life threatening. Build-up of ketones in the body causes symptoms of ketoacidosis that usually develop slowly. The initial symptoms include:
- Dry mouth or excessive thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- High blood sugar.
- Elevated blood ketones: Ketones can be tested at home using a urine sample along with and test strips.
Other symptoms, which develop as the blood ketone levels increase, are:
- Fatigue and tiredness.
- Vomiting and pain in the abdomen.
- Labored breathing or difficulty in breathing.
- Breath that has a fruity smell.
- Difficulty in concentration.
- Drowsiness, stupor and confusion.
- Loss of consciousness or coma.