Type 1 Diabetes: When the Pancreas Is Under Attack

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what causes type 1 diabetes, how to tell if you might have it, and what to do if you’re diagnosed.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus, or type 1 diabetes for short, affects approximately 1.25 million people in the United States, or around 4% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes. Like type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes can lead to a whole host of negative consequences, especially if it’s poorly controlled. However, the two types don’t share the same cause. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what causes type 1 diabetes, how to tell if you might have it, and what to do if you’re diagnosed.

Types of Diabetes

As mentioned, there are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is by far the more common type and occurs when a person develops insulin resistance—a condition that results when the body doesn’t use insulin properly.

When resistance becomes an issue, the pancreas—which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels—tries to compensate by making more and more insulin, but over time it becomes overwhelmed and can no longer keep blood glucose levels balanced. In its early stages, type 2 diabetes can be managed, and even reversed, with dietary changes and exercise. However, in its more advanced stages, medications and insulin are generally required.

By contrast, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that arises when the immune system attacks islet cells in the pancreas called beta cells, mistaking the healthy insulin-producing cells for foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. If the immune system destroys enough of these cells, the pancreas can eventually lose its ability to produce insulin altogether.

If you’re a member of a certain generation, you probably remember that type 1 diabetes was once referred to as juvenile diabetes. However, even though it is more commonly diagnosed in childhood, the condition can develop at any age. Likewise, type 2 diabetes was once known as adult-onset diabetes, but childhood obesity has led to more and more children being diagnosed with the illness, so the term is no longer used.

Why Is Insulin So Important?

Glucose is a type of sugar that the body’s cells use as their main source of energy. But to be used by the cells, glucose first has to have insulin to get across the cell walls. If the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or the pancreas loses its beta cells or begins to malfunction and can no longer keep up with the body’s demands, sugar can’t get into the cells and instead builds up in the bloodstream. And this can lead to a variety of health problems.

Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes

A number of factors can increase a person’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes. These include:

  • Family history: People with a family history of type 1 diabetes have a greater risk of developing the condition.
  • Age: Children between the ages of 4 and 7 and 10 and 14 are at greater risk of type 1 diabetes.
  • Genetics: People with certain genes have a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
  • Geography: Interestingly, people who live farther away from the equator have a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

It’s not uncommon for the symptoms of type 1 diabetes to appear quite suddenly. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fruity breath
  • Extreme hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability and other mood changes
  • Yeast infections (women and girls)

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

Like type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes can result in profound and life-threatening complications affecting a variety of organ systems. Some of the conditions associated with this disease are:

  • Heart disease: Type 1 diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various heart problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Neuropathy: Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage by damaging the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that feed nerves. This can result in tingling, numbness, burning, pain, and eventual loss of sensation in the affected area.
  • Nephropathy: Type 1 diabetes can damage the filtering system of the kidneys, which may lead to end-stage kidney disease, dialysis, or kidney transplant.
  • Retinopathy: Type 1 diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina and lead to blindness. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels are also associated with a greater risk of developing cataracts.

Diagnosing Type 1 Diabetes

If your health care provider suspects type 1 diabetes, they’ll order blood tests to check markers for the disease. Common tests used to diagnose type 1 diabetes include:

  • Glycosylated hemoglobin (A1c): This test measures the body’s average blood sugar level over the previous 2 or 3 months by testing the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin. A higher percentage indicates that blood sugar has been elevated.
  • Random blood sugar: As the name suggests, a random blood sugar can be performed at any time of the day. A level greater than 200 milligrams per deciliter is suggestive of diabetes, regardless of when the last meal was eaten.
  • Fasting blood sugar: This test is performed after fasting overnight. A level between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter indicates prediabetes, while two or more readings of 126 or higher confirm the diagnosis of diabetes.

Treating Type 1 Diabetes

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, your treatment plan will consist of the following:

  • Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels
  • Insulin administration
  • Dietary modifications
  • Carbohydrate, fat, and protein tracking
  • Regular physical activity
  • Healthy weight maintenance

Unfortunately, because type 1 diabetes destroys the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin, people with the disease will need to take supplemental insulin for the rest of their lives. The different types of insulin that may be prescribed are:

  • Regular
  • Fast-acting
  • Intermediate-acting
  • Long-acting

Moreover, insulin can’t be taken orally because the same enzymes that digest food also break down insulin, rendering it inactive. Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes must administer insulin using either an insulin pump, which is a wearable device that automatically dispenses insulin, or injections.

While an insulin pump can be programmed to dispense specific amounts of rapid-acting insulin at regular intervals, people who choose insulin injections usually require a variety of insulin types, administered multiple times throughout the day.

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first artificial pancreas device system for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. This device works by automatically adjusting the amount of insulin entering the body based on glucose levels measured by a sensor.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are known as the building blocks of life because they’re essential for the creation of protein and other chemicals the body requires for proper functioning. And new research is beginning to shed light on the role these important substances may play in the development of type 1 diabetes.

For example, a 2013 study published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes found that children who develop type 1 diabetes during the first 6 years of life exhibit low levels of the amino acid carnitine as infants.

These findings suggest that neonatal screening for amino acid deficiencies may be beneficial in children at risk of type 1 diabetes, and that carnitine supplementation may be helpful for those found to be lacking in this important amino acid. However, it’s important to remember that amino acids work in concert with one another, so look for a formula that supplies a balanced mixture of all essential amino acids, and be sure to speak with your health care provider before beginning an amino acid regimen.

Type 1 diabetes is a serious illness that can lead to a number of potentially debilitating or life-threatening conditions. However, with appropriate diabetes care, including a healthy diet, social support, and avoidance of both high and low blood sugar levels, it’s possible to reduce your risk of health problems and lead a long and productive life. So if you or someone you love is experiencing worrisome symptoms, don’t hesitate to speak with your health care provider right away.

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and it occurs when a patient has insulin resistance. In type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks pancreatic cells and destroy them. The attack prevents the pancreatic cells from doing their job of making insulin.

What to Take for Laryngitis

A whispering, squeaking, husky voice usually means one thing: laryngitis. Curious what to take for laryngitis? The best medicine for laryngitis may be in the cupboard, rather than at the pharmacy.

A whispering, squeaking, hoarse voice usually means one thing: laryngitis. Typically lasting days or weeks, ordinary laryngitis is an inconvenience but not a life-threatening problem. Curious what to take for laryngitis? The best medicine for laryngitis may be in the cupboard, rather than at the pharmacy.

Laryngitis Symptoms

Laryngitis is an inflammation or swelling of the voice box (larynx). When a bout of laryngitis attacks, the vocal cords—folds in the larynx mucosa—become swollen. Normally, the vocal cords open and close very smoothly, producing sound through movement and vibration. When they become swollen, the sound produced by the air passing through the vocal cord is distorted, causing the patient’s voice to sound husky.

A fairly common condition, laryngitis usually occurs in children and the elderly because of their poor resistance. A person with laryngitis experiences hoarseness, loss of voice, and throat pain. Additional symptoms of laryngitis in adults may include pain from swallowing, fullness in the throat or neck, fever, swollen lymph nodes, or a congested or runny nose. Symptoms in infants or children, usually associated with croup, may include a hoarse laryngitis cough and fever.

It is recommended that adults see a doctor if they are in pain, hoarse for more than 2 weeks, coughing up blood, have a temperature above 103 °F, or have trouble breathing. Consulting a physician is recommended if a child is…

  • Younger than 3 months old and has a temperature of 100 °F or higher
  • Older than 3 months old and has a fever of 102 °F or higher
  • Is having difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Is making high-pitched sounds when inhaling
  • Is drooling more than usual

A doctor will examine the patient’s throat, take a culture, and use an endoscope, a narrow tube equipped with a camera. There may be a skin allergy test or an X-ray taken to rule out other issues.

Acute laryngitis typically clears up on its own within a few weeks. Laryngitis is termed chronic laryngitis when it lasts longer than 3 weeks. Chronic inflammation from laryngitis can cause the formation of nodules or polyps on the vocal cords.

Laryngitis in children can develop into croup, a narrowing of the airways, or epiglottitis, an inflammation of the flap at the top of the larynx that can be life-threatening. In adults, complications of laryngitis from GERD include pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and vocal cord paralysis.

Causes of Laryngitis

Factors that can trigger laryngitis are upper respiratory infection or the common cold; overuse of the vocal cords by talking, singing, or screaming; smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke; or exposure to dry or polluted air. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also play a role in laryngitis; strong acids can travel up from the stomach into the larynx, causing irritation and loss of the voice. Laryngitis caused by GERD, which is a common cause among the elderly, can make people feel as if they have something stuck in the windpipe.

When infections cause laryngitis, it can be contagious. Although it’s usually virus-related, there are also continual, or chronic, forms of laryngitis, typically brought on by smoking and alcohol abuse. Other origins of chronic cases of laryngitis include: allergies, bacterial infection, fungal infection, injury, inhalation of chemical fumes, and sinus disease. Some health conditions, including cancer, can also instigate laryngitis.

Laryngitis Cure and Prevention

In most cases, laryngitis will disappear on its own. Treatment of laryngitis involves drinking plenty of fluids, resting the voice, humidifying the air, making some common-sense lifestyle changes, and using natural and home remedies for symptom relief. Many of these remedies are easy to find and prepare.

Limit conversation to rest the voice. Speak softly as if seated with a friend in a café, eliminate yelling or speaking loudly, and avoid whispering and clearing the throat. Without the stress of everyday use, a person’s voice usually recovers on its own. If the need to speak clearly is urgent, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroids that act like hormones that the body makes naturally to reduce swelling. To relieve pain, you can take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Take supplements that reduce inflammation. BCAAs (branch-chained amino acids) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids, along with glycine, reduce inflammation in a variety of diseases and conditions. It’s highly preferable to take a complete essential amino acid supplement, rather than a BCAA supplement or single amino acid therapy.

Here are some lifestyle changes that can reduce the chance of getting laryngitis in the first place or help in the healing process:

  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol to avoid dehydration.
  • Use artificial saliva to moisten the mouth and throat.
  • Stop smoking and avoid smokers.
  • Avoid recreational drugs, which can be harmful to the larynx.
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to indoor air.
  • Avoid dusty environments.
  • Beware of certain drugs such as antihistamines and diuretics that can dry out the mouth and throat.
  • Be hyperaware of washing your hands with warm water and soap. Keep surfaces, such as the telephone and door handles, clean with vinegar and a fresh cloth.
  • Know what to take for laryngitis. Stay hydrated and soothe your throat by drinking water throughout the day. Fruit juices and non-caffeinated drinks can be both moistening and soothing.
  • Start and end the day with steam by boiling water, placing the pot on a protected surface, and breathing the steam in gently for 10 to 15 minutes.

A whispering, squeaking, husky voice usually means one thing: laryngitis. Typically lasting days or weeks, ordinary laryngitis is an inconvenience but not a life-threatening problem. Curious what to take for laryngitis? The best medicine for laryngitis may be in the cupboard, rather than at the pharmacy.

Laryngitis Home Remedies

Most home remedies for laryngitis are already in the house or easy to find. Here are our favorites.

Honey

Quite possibly the the best medicine for laryngitis, honey contains sugars and amino acids beneficial for health and bolsters the resistance of the human body. Rich in minerals and considered a natural antibiotic that fights pathogens, honey combats laryngitis symptoms, such as a sore throat, dry cough, phlegm, and seasonal allergy symptoms. It has antifungal and antioxidant activities.

Garlic

Loaded with antimicrobial properties that kill bacteria and viruses, garlic acts as a natural expectorant. When sliced or crushed, garlic releases the antimicrobial substance allicin, making it effective in treating laryngitis.

The oil from garlic is rich in glucine, aliin, and phytonoxite, which have bactericidal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory effects, and garlic also contains large amounts of vitamins A, B, C, D, PP, carbon tetrachloride, polysaccharide, inulin, fitoxterin, and other minerals necessary for the body, such as iodine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and trace elements.

Garlic is rich in antioxidants to help restore the activity of cells in the body, improve resistance, and help the body resist diseases.

Licorice

An herbal remedy for some common ailments such as colds, pharyngitis, and bronchitis, licorice reduces sputum. It enhances expectoration and dilutes the mucus in the respiratory tract. Glycyrrhizic acid in licorice improves the function of the adrenal glands, and cortisol in licorice has anti-inflammatory properties. Licorice, which boosts the immune system by activating interferons in the body, helps to prevent viral infections.

Ginger

Good for the throat and for throat infections, fresh ginger comforts inflamed mucous membranes of the larynx. Ginger’s complex chemical composition contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits. It can be sweetened with honey if needed.

Turmeric

Its strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties kill bacteria and help the body produce excessive mucus. In addition to boosting the immune system, turmeric has three natural plant compounds called curcuminoids that reduce enzymes in the body that contribute to inflammation.

Onion Syrup

Onions have high levels of antioxidants and sulfur compounds, and onion syrup acts as a natural expectorant and a natural cure for larynx inflammation. Onions are rich in vitamins A, B, C, as well as natural folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chromium, iron, and fiber.

Apple Cider Vinegar

With some serious antimicrobial properties to stave off infections, apple cider vinegar also helps balance stomach acid levels. Being naturally acidic, it can lower pH level in the stomach and offer probiotics and enzymes to improve food digestion and fight GERD and acid reflux. Apple cider vinegar also repels infections and other acute conditions due to its antimicrobial properties.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Natural antispasmodic activity helps fight off contractions that make people cough, while cutting irritation to the vocal cords. Peppermint essential oil also helps treat allergies, a potential cause of laryngitis. It relieves scratchy throats, colds, and coughs; serves as an expectorant; discharges phlegm; and reduces inflammation of the vocal cords.

Tea

With numerous vitamins and antioxidants, tea can relieve inflammation and harmful bacteria in the throat. Soothing the throat and the stomach, chrysanthemum and mint tea are especially helpful when used with a few drops of honey. Mullein tea can also soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation. A mild astringent and antibacterial agent, it can help to treat laryngitis that comes from an infection of the larynx.

Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm

Prized for their mucilage, marshmallow root and slippery elm help coat the throat to relieve irritation. They also help subdue swelling in the lymph nodes, bolster the healing process, and reduce aggravating dry laryngitis cough.

Gargles

Various gargles with household items are helpful for laryngitis. A saltwater gargle soothes infected and inflamed vocal cords and sore throats and kills bacteria. Gargling with vinegar, a weak acid, can reduce the buildup of infectious organisms. A lemon juice and salt gargle stimulates saliva flow and kills many microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses because of its acidity, which is increased by the salt. It also aids in loosening mucus.

Understanding Hypothyroidism Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can result in a number of serious health problems. So come with us as we delve into this common condition, uncover its causes and symptoms, and discuss available treatments and what you can do to take care of your thyroid and protect your long-term health.

According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of people in the United States will develop some type of thyroid disorder in the course of their lives. And the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) estimates that approximately 5% of Americans over the age of 12 have symptoms of hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can result in a number of serious health problems. So come with us as we delve into this common condition, uncover its causes and symptoms, and discuss available treatments and what you can do to take care of your thyroid and protect your long-term health.

What Is the Thyroid, and What Does It Do?

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits near the bottom of the neck, below the larynx, or voice box. The thyroid gland makes two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), the levels of which are controlled by another hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is in turn produced by the pituitary gland—an organ found in the brain that’s sometimes referred to as the body’s master gland.

Together, the thyroid hormones regulate the body’s use of energy and affect the function of almost every organ. In fact, many of the processes we take for granted, such as heartbeat, breathing, body temperature, metabolism, and menstrual cycles, couldn’t take place without thyroid hormones.

But sometimes the thyroid’s ability to produce enough hormones to maintain healthy functioning is compromised. And when this happens, hypothyroidism results.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism may be caused by a number of factors, from autoimmune diseases to iodine deficiency, but some of the most common causes include:

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in America. An autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakes the thyroid for a foreign invader and creates antibodies against it, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis results in chronic inflammation of the thyroid that damages the gland’s ability to produce thyroid hormones.

Thyroidectomy

People who’ve undergone thyroidectomy to treat certain thyroid diseases, including overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer, can develop hypothyroidism. Some forms of thyroid surgery preserve thyroid function by removing only part of the gland, but individuals who’ve had surgical removal of the entire gland must receive supplemental thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.

Radiation Therapy

People with head and neck cancers who undergo radiation—including radioactive iodine for the treatment of thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism—may experience thyroid damage that leads to hypothyroidism.

In addition to the above, other less common causes of hypothyroidism may include:

  • Congenital hypothyroidism: This type of hypothyroidism occurs when an infant is born with a thyroid gland that’s either defective or missing.
  • Pituitary gland tumor: If the pituitary gland fails to produce adequate levels of TSH—usually as a result of a tumor—hypothyroidism can occur.
  • Iodine deficiencyThe trace mineral iodine is necessary for proper thyroid hormone production, and deficiencies can lead to hypothyroidism.

Risk Factors for Hypothyroidism

Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, certain factors may predispose an individual to developing the condition. Some of the most common risk factors include:

  • Family history: People with a family history of thyroid disorders are more likely to develop hypothyroidism.
  • Sex: Women have a greater risk of developing hypothyroidism.
  • Age: People over the age of 60 are at greater risk of having the condition.
  • Autoimmune conditions: People with a history of other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, have a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism.

Complications of Hypothyroidism

Many people may think of hypothyroidism as a relatively benign condition that causes little more than fatigue and weight gain. However, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to a number of serious health issues, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Depression
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Myxedema coma

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

The symptoms seen in cases of hypothyroidism vary depending on the severity of the disease. And because the condition tends to develop slowly over many years, it can be easy to dismiss symptoms as merely the result of the aging process. However, as the disease continues to progress, symptoms will become harder to ignore. Some of the most common symptoms to watch out for include:

Chronic fatigue Cold intolerance
Constipation Dry or puffy skin
Hair loss Weight gain
Hoarseness Muscle and joint pain
Muscle weakness Joint swelling
Elevated cholesterol Irregular menstrual periods
Decreased heart rate Depression
Memory difficulties Thyroid enlargement (goiter)

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism

To diagnose hypothyroidism, your health care provider will first speak with you regarding your symptoms and then perform a physical exam to evaluate for signs of the condition, including thyroid enlargement, dry skin, and slow heart rate. If findings lead your health care provider to suspect hypothyroidism, blood tests will then be conducted to assess thyroid hormone levels.

While the most commonly measured thyroid hormone is TSH, your doctor may choose to evaluate levels of T4 as well. A finding of elevated TSH levels and decreased T4 levels is indicative of clinical hypothyroidism. However, in cases where TSH is elevated but T4 is normal, a diagnosis of subclinical hypothyroidism may be given. If this occurs, your health care provider might choose to do nothing, or they might offer a trial of thyroid hormone replacement or recommend dietary changes and nutritional support.

Treating Hypothyroidism

After receiving a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, treatment usually involves thyroid hormone replacement in the form of levothyroxine—a synthetic hormone. This medication is provided in pill form and is usually given once a day. When therapy first begins, TSH will need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure the proper dosage has been prescribed.

If you experience symptoms of too much thyroid hormone, including increased appetite, insomnia, and palpitations, your dose of levothyroxine will need to be lowered. However, side effects are generally minimal after the appropriate dose is found, and treatment usually requires only yearly monitoring to make sure further dosage changes aren’t needed.

Diet and Nutrition

As mentioned, diet and nutrition play an important role in thyroid health and can be very helpful when used as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of hypothyroidism.

While people with hypothyroidism may be advised to limit their consumption of goitrogenic foods like broccoli and kale—as they may interfere with the production of thyroid hormones—there are many foods and nutritional supplements that can actually help support the thyroid and even decrease the need for medication. These include foods high in B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants as well as:

  • Vitamin D: Studies have shown that people with hypothyroidism tend to have lower levels of vitamin D.
  • Selenium: The thyroid gland contains more selenium than any other organ in the body and we must have this important mineral in order to convert inactive T4 into active T3 (triiodothyronine).
  • Inositol: When used with selenium, inositol has been shown to decrease both TSH and the levels of antibodies seen in autoimmune thyroid disorders.
  • Zinc: Like selenium, zinc is also required by the thyroid gland for converting T4 into T3.
  • Ashwagandha: This well-known adaptogen not only helps the body adapt to stress but has also been shown in studies to assist in balancing thyroid hormone levels.
  • Amino acids: Known as the building blocks of life, amino acids play a critical role in almost every biological process, including thyroid function. One amino acid in particular—tyrosine—is combined with iodine in the thyroid to create both T3 and T4.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, be sure to speak with your health care provider. Testing is quick and easy, and early treatment can help prevent long-term complications.

Hypothyroidism is proof that size doesn’t matter. The small thyroid gland can cause big health problems when it isn’t working correctly. When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones to maintain a healthy body, the result is a condition called hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid.