What is Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM)?
Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is more commonly referred to as type 1 diabetes. This condition affects the pancreas, eventually rendering the person reliant on daily insulin shots.
The body mistakes healthy cells for trespassers and launches an autoimmune response to attack them. When cells deplete to such an extent, the body can’t process glucose. This results in a buildup of blood sugars and causes a series of complications.
Exact causes for IDDM are unknown; most indications point toward genes, while others suggest environmental factors. (1)
Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or type 1 diabetes tends to develop in children, most of whom are born with the condition, although it’s not completely unseen in adults. (2)
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas, which is a small organ located in the upper middle part of the abdomen. This hormone helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and is an important part of the body’s digestive system.
Insulin will attach itself to the glucose (sugar) in food during digestion, where it then guides the sugar from the bloodstream into cells throughout the body to boost energy supplies.
In the case of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) the body attacks cells in the pancreas to such a degree it doesn’t leave sufficient quantities available to produce adequate amounts of insulin.
This adverse reaction results in high blood sugar levels and can lead to various symptoms and complications. (3)
Symptoms generally have a quick onset and can include the following:
A hallmark of diabetes is frequent urination.
This occurs when too much glucose ends up in the kidneys. These organs can only hold so much, therefore when limits are reached any excess is passed into urine and causes issues when urination occurs.
Sugar also has an ability to draw out additional fluids from the bladder which are supposed to remain within. This not only increases the frequency but also the amount of urine. It can also explain why people with diabetes often experience a greater sense of thirst. (4)
Children with IDDM are often affected by nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) for the same reason: excessive urine. (5)
Unintentional Weight Loss
Unintentional weight loss can often occur when a person has insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Again, this happens as a result of depleted insulin levels hampering transport of glucose into cells. (6)
The cells must then find another source of energy, which they do by burning body fat. This in turn causes weight loss.
Weight loss will often occur before a diagnosis is made. Once treatment starts, the person may gain the weight back on.
An increased appetite is another classic symptom of diabetes.
It can occur as a result of two factors: blood glucose levels which are too high (hyperglycemia) or low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). (7)
Hyperglycemia is more common in undiagnosed diabetes, where increased hunger is a signal indicating the body needs energy. This generally goes away when blood sugar levels are controlled.
Hypoglycemia causes hunger when the body is in critical need of glucose. This is very serious and should be treated as quickly as possible.
Fatigue can be a symptom of diabetes, as a result of either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. (8)
The body will be working harder than normal with less glucose in the cells. This means the requirement for energy is simply not met. Sometimes fatigue can be triggered by too much insulin due to strong medication.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a certain type of eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. (9)
This condition is the result of long-lasting high blood glucose levels that will eventually damage the tiny blood vessels behind the eye.
Diabetic retinopathy can lead to another condition, diabetic macular edema, which causes fluid to build up around a part of the eye called the macular. This helps people to see clear images and recognize faces and objects. When it suffers damage, vision will become blurry.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is a feeling of discomfort which generally signals the urge to expel stomach contents through the mouth by vomiting.
This generally affects people with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. (10)
We have established, the onset of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus typically occurs during childhood. It can progress rather quickly to the latter stages where the person becomes dependent on insulin shots. (11)
However, in adults, IDDM can develop more gradually.
This type of diabetes has been segregated into five stages for all different types. This is based in accordance with progressive destruction of “b-cells” within the pancreas. (12)
Stage #1 (Compensation)
As the body senses a resistance to insulin, it will try to compensate by telling the pancreas to work harder to increase production.
Stage #2 (Stable Adaption)
A slight rise in blood glucose levels begins to show as the pancreas starts to tire and can’t keep up with demand for insulin. However, enough insulin is stored to keep this stage stable for a period.
Stage #3 (Unstable Early Decompensation)
Levels rise more rapidly in this stage. The stored insulin is depleting and the pancreas has suffered significant damage. This means function is severely impaired.
Stage #4 (Stable Decompensation)
The condition slows down its progression in this stage. Even though the pancreas is damaged, it might still produce a small amount of insulin.
Stage #5 (Severe Decompensation)
The pancreas has suffered severe damage and can no longer produce any insulin. A progression to the last stage is confirmed when the diabetic becomes dependent on daily insulin shots.
Treatment of IDDM will work to compensate for the pancreas through medical intervention. The concept is to replicate function of insulin production.
Generally people with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus will get support from a health care team consisting of different experts. (13)
Insulin is the most important component of IDDM treatment. It can be applied in different ways. (14)
Many people take it as an injection or through a pump which automatically supplies the body with the required amount.
The dosage depends on how much insulin a person requires. It will vary on an individual basis therefore it’s very important to monitor blood glucose levels daily.
This is an alternative to insulin shots. It’s a small device which will check the levels of glucose as well as give the body a boost of insulin as and when needed. (15)
Even though it can’t cure the disease, it can help to make diabetes easier to manage.
Different factors can make diabetes worse and harder to control, such as stress or being inactive and eating the wrong foods.
It’s important to incorporate a healthy lifestyle as well as seek treatment for other conditions which can interfere with diabetes, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol. (16)
What is insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)? Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is a term describing type 1 diabetes. It’s an autoimmune disease which results in the body being unable to produce insulin effectively.
What are the signs of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)? Signs can include: frequent urination, increased thirst or hunger, weight loss, fatigue and damaged vision. However, people with IDDM might also experience nausea and vomiting.
How do you develop insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)? Experts believe it’s primarily due to genetics and occasionally to environmental factors. This leads to an autoimmune response from the body, attacking the insulin producing cells within the pancreas. (17)
How are you diagnosed for insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)? Your doctor will take a blood sample to check for the characteristics of diabetes. To determine whether it’s type 1 or 2, he/she will test for ketones and autoantibodies. If these are present, it is a signal of type 1 diabetes (IDDM). (18)
What is the best treatment for insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)? The treatment for IDDM is daily insulin, administered either by an injection, pump or inhaler. (19)
What are the long term complications of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)? Diabetes in general has a significant long term effect on the body. It can weaken the heart which can lead to heart disease. It may also damage the kidneys, nervous system and eyesight. (20)
Is insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) considered a disability? It’s not considered a disability, even though it can impact upon daily life.
Is there any cure for insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)? There is no cure, but with daily management it can be controlled.
Is insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) life threatening? Yes people with IDDM need daily insulin shots to survive. Furthermore, if the dose is too high it can also deplete the body of blood sugars causing hypoglycemia. This can lead to death if not treated immediately. (21)
Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is best known today as type 1 diabetes. It is a condition where the person needs daily insulin to keep the body working. This is because the pancreas doesn’t produce sufficient levels of this vital hormone.
The condition is generally diagnosed in children who are born with a specific gene causing an autoimmune response. This triggers an attack against insulin producing cells in the pancreas. It can also develop in adult years, however, the cause is somewhat unknown.
Although the disease can be life threatening, it can be managed effectively with insulin shots to stabilize blood glucose levels.