Morning Report presenter Guyon Espiner has revealed he has Type One diabetes.
Radio New Zealand issued a statement following speculation over his hospitalisation with a “health issue” earlier this week.
Espiner is now home and getting used to the regime which goes with Type One diabetes, administering insulin and matching blood sugar levels. “The good news is you can live a normal lifestyle – you just have to get used to managing it,” he said.
So what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and is it unusual for someone to be diagnosed with Type 1 as an adult?
* Type 1 diabetes scanner puts finger pricks in the past
* My life with type 1 diabetes – it’s a daily battle, with no days off
* Daily injections and sweet treats par for the course for those living with type 1 diabetes
* A type one diabetic shares his top to-know list for living with the disease
SO WHAT IS TYPE 1 DIABETES?
There is often confusion between Type 1 diabetes and the much more common Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes usually manifests during childhood. The key change is an inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, which is essential for transporting glucose across internal cell membranes.
Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. Insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are then destroyed by “friendly fire”.
People without diabetes naturally keep a stable blood sugar while T1 diabetics have to stabilise it manually.
Type 1 diabetics require a number of injections a day along with monitoring blood sugars to ensure their glucose levels remain within 4mmol/l and 7mmol/l.
About 25,000 adults and children in New Zealand have Type 1 diabetes and cannot produce insulin at all.
HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM TYPE 2 DIABETES?
People who develop Type 2 diabetes still produce some insulin, but the liver and muscles become resistant to insulin’s ability to move glucose out of the blood and into the tissues.
Type 2 diabetes is primarily a disease of middle-aged and older people and is related to excess weight, diet and lack of physical activity.
About 300,000 adult Kiwis have Type 2 diabetes. Some are insulin dependent and also need to monitor their glucose levels.
IS IT UNUSUAL TO DEVELOP TYPE 1 DIABETES AS AN ADULT?
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information says that while T1 commonly presents in children and adolescents, the condition persists into and can start in adult life.
According to the medical journal BMJ, in the 30–50 year age group, T1 diabetes accounts for only 13% of all new cases of diabetes.
IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN TYPE 1 DIABETES AND COW MILK?
Bovine milk has previously been identified as a potential risk factor for Type 1 diabetes. There have been multiple trials comparing breast milk to formula, and also comparing alternative ages of first introduction to bovine milk.
But clear answers have been elusive, according to Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at Auckland University.
WHAT CAN SOMEONE DIAGNOSED WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES EXPECT?
According to the NCBI, people with Type 1 diabetes face significant challenges to daily living, with the risk of developing hyperglycaemia (high plasma glucose) and hypoglycaemia (low plasma glucose).
They need daily administration of insulin and frequent self-monitoring of plasma glucose, and to plan daily activities such as eating and exercising.
Over the long term, T1 diabetes carries risk of major complications and reduced life expectancy. While at present there is no cure, technology and education is fortunately making it easier to live with the condition.