An episode of hyperglycaemia may cause dizziness

Symptoms & Complications of Type 1 Diabetes


Type 1 diabetes mainly affects children, adolescents and young adults. But new diseases also occur in older patients (LADA diabetes). The disease usually breaks out suddenly. In addition to the symptoms caused by increased blood sugar levels (high blood sugar levels), the most severe complications (e.g. diabetic ketoacidosis or diabetic coma) can occur at the beginning of the disease, which in extreme cases can be fatal.

High blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia)

The following symptoms may occur as a result of the increased blood sugar concentration in the blood:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Dry skin
  • Weight loss
  • fatigue
  • Visual disturbances
  • Poor wound healing
  • Genital infections

Permanently high blood sugar levels have an unfavorable effect on the blood vessels and the cardiovascular system. In type 1 diabetes, in addition to high blood sugar levels, there is also an absolute insulin deficiency. This is why the body's cells cannot be supplied with enough sugar (glucose). The insulin deficiency also disrupts the fatty acid metabolism. It comes, among other things. often to heart attacks, strokes and a number of other sequelae.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (diabetic coma)

As a result of the disturbed fatty acid metabolism, more substances can arise that increase the acidity of the blood (by lowering the pH value). This leads to the development of acidosis in the blood, which can trigger a diabetic coma. In type 1 diabetics, this is also called diabetic ketoacidosis. It is characterized by:

  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • Deep, compulsive breathing
  • Clouding and loss of consciousness
  • Odor of acetone (in breath, in urine)

Diabetic ketoacidosis can be life-threatening, so patients must be rushed to hospital and treated in an intensive care unit as soon as possible.

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)

Type 1 diabetics can experience hypoglycaemia when too much insulin works. An excessive concentration of insulin in the blood leads to an excessive drop in blood sugar levels. If this falls below a value of 50 mg%, the doctor speaks of hypoglycaemia. The lower the average blood sugar level of a diabetic patient, the more likely it is to develop hypoglycaemia.
It can be triggered e.g. B. by:

  • too high a dose of insulin or other antidiabetic drugs
  • a skipped meal or too little carbohydrate intake
  • unusual physical exertion
  • alcohol
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weakness of the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, or thyroid gland

Signs of mild hypoglycaemia are:

  • Pallor, sweating, tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Tingling, furry feeling in the mouth
  • a headache
  • Cravings
  • Soft knees

With the drop in blood sugar levels, the brain suddenly no longer receives sufficient energy. Damage to the nervous system therefore occurs after a relatively short time. If the brain remains undersupplied for a long time, the damage cannot be reversed. Severe hypoglycaemia lead to impaired consciousness or loss of consciousness, coma and even death.
In the case of severe hypoglycaemia, impaired concentration and consciousness up to and including unconsciousness occur. Dizziness, seizures or aggressive behavior can also occur.
The blood sugar level can be increased again by supplying glucose with food or as an injection. The injection of glucagon into the subcutaneous fatty tissue by relatives also causes the blood sugar to rise rapidly and to stop the hypoglycaemia. But then you have to eat carbohydrates.

Pregnant with diabetes

Thanks to medical advances, it is now also possible for a type 1 diabetic to give birth to a healthy child. However, the prerequisite is that the blood sugar level is well adjusted before pregnancy and remains largely in the normal range throughout the pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the diabetic's metabolic situation changes. Your need for insulin increases over the course of pregnancy. Usually they then need five insulin syringes as part of their insulin therapy or the use of an insulin infusion pump. Type 1 diabetics should check the blood sugar level themselves before and one hour after the main meals in order to keep the blood sugar in the normal range. If there is a risk of a significant increase in blood sugar levels or even a diabetic coma, the pregnant woman must be admitted to the hospital immediately. A diabetic coma is usually fatal for the unborn child.

A doctor must monitor the pregnant woman very closely during pregnancy. The child should be closely monitored by a pediatrician after birth.

After the birth, the mother's need for insulin decreases. You may not be able to inject insulin for 1-2 days.