I recently came across a paper from uptodate.com (sent to me by a doctor who prescribes to this service for medical professionals). Excerpt below. I was really surprised about one thing in particular: that getting type 1 is not a sudden process, but in fact "usually progresses over many months or years". In other words, your symptoms may not manifest until *years* after it was triggered in your body. I had previously thought, perhaps out of my own ignorance, that the symptoms would manifest a matter of weeks after whatever triggered the disease - be it a virus or something else in the environment, which probably triggered a genetic predisposition.
Is this long latent period news to anyone else?
Pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes mellitus
David K McCulloch, MD
Irl B Hirsch, MD
Jean E Mulder, MD
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
Literature review current through: Oct 2012. | This topic last updated: Aug 09, 2012.
INTRODUCTION — Type 1A diabetes mellitus results from autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the islets of Langerhans . This process occurs in genetically susceptible subjects, is probably triggered by one or more environmental agents, and usually progresses over many months or years during which the subject is asymptomatic and euglycemic. Thus, genetic markers for type 1A diabetes are present from birth, immune markers are detectable after the onset of the autoimmune process, and metabolic markers can be detected with sensitive tests once enough ß-cell damage has occurred, but before the onset of symptomatic hyperglycemia . This long latent period is a reflection of the large number of functioning beta cells that must be lost before hyperglycemia occurs (figure 1). Type 1B diabetes mellitus refers to non-autoimmune islet destruction (Type 1B diabetes). (See "Classification of diabetes mellitus and genetic diabetic syndromes".)