OKRA News #04
By Diane Hwang
Each year, around 40,000 Americans, many of whom are very young, receive diagnosis for Type 1 diabetes. The reality is that Type 1 diabetes affects around 1 in every 3700 children aged 5 to 9. This figure is only expected to climb in the future.
Type 1 diabetes is poorly understood, despite its widespread incidence. Many people assume it is a "lifestyle disease" caused by eating too much glucose and unhealthy foods. In reality, it is an immunological illness that cannot be blamed on one's lifestyle.
So, how do you know whether you have Type 1 diabetes? How can you defend yourself or your child against high blood sugar if you have Type 1 diabetes? Here are some of the things that one should know to enable one to live a productive and happy life while dealing with this condition.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
First and foremost, it is important to understand what Type 1 diabetes is and how it affects the body. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. This is very dangerous, as insulin helps the body process glucose from the foods we eat for energy.
Type 1 diabetes happens when the insulin-making cells are destroyed by your immune system in your pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is usually detected when you are at a younger age, rather than type 2 diabetes which can develop as you age. With type 2 diabetes, your body simply just stops responding to insulin the way that it normally should.
Without insulin, glucose cannot enter our cells for use as fuel. Therefore, it remains in the blood — resulting in the high blood sugar notable in Type 1 diabetics. To prevent this, Type 1 diabetics require insulin shots to allow the body to properly process glucose.
Unfortunately, Type 1 diabetes currently does not have a cure. This can be disheartening for newly diagnosed people to hear, but it is important to remember that diabetics can live successful, happy, and healthy lives. With careful diabetes management and lifestyle choices, anyone can achieve their goals and dreams despite their Type 1 diabetes.
Who is at Risk of Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is often known as “juvenile diabetes.” This is because the age of onset for Type 1 diabetes is often very young. The majority of diagnoses occur between the ages of four and 14, although it is possible to be diagnosed as late in life as age 40.
Why is Type 1 diabetes more common in children? Science doesn’t have a definitive answer, but research seems to suggest that this condition is largely genetic. Young people have a greater risk of developing Type 1 diabetes if they are:
- Related to someone with Type 1 diabetes
- Caucasian, particularly with heritage from Finland or Sardinia
- Between the ages of 4 to 6, or 10 to 14
That said, these are not the only risk factors for Type 1 diabetes. Exposure to a viral illness like rotavirus, mumps, cytomegalovirus, or rubella can also contribute to a Type 1 diagnosis at any age. If you or your child are exposed to these illnesses (or if you or your child meet any of the other risk factors), it’s wise to watch for symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
What are the signs of Type 1 diabetes you should be looking for? The truth is that many of Type 1 diabetes symptoms go unnoticed, as they are rather mundane. Common symptoms include:
- Excessive thirst or hunger
- Producing excessive sweat
- Wetting the bed or frequently urinating
- A higher-than-normal heart rate
- Frequent headaches
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Slow-healing bruises and cuts
- Feeling the need to vomit
- Feeling a dry mouth
- Blurred vision
Some emergency signs of diabetes include:
- Confusion and shaking
- Harsh breathing
- Stomach pain
If you notice your child exhibiting any of these symptoms, bring them to their pediatrician right away as this is a serious condition. The faster your child receives insulin, the better off your little one will be!
Consequences Of Type 1 Diabetes
Insulin is a very important part of your body because it helps move a bunch of nutrients to your body’s tissues. From there, your cells use that as energy to keep moving. All of this will start an unhealthy process that ultimately leads to your blood sugar becoming extremely high and when your blood sugar gets to those levels, you can experience:
- Severe weight loss
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Other damages to the body
Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes
The first thing that will be checked during your diagnosis is your blood sugar levels as that is the main indicator of type 1 diabetes. They also may take a urine sample from you to see what chemicals are present when insulin is not. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid type 1 diabetes completely, but by knowing the risks and your genetic history you can take steps to keep yourself healthy.
Management of Type 1 Diabetes
If you or your child has Type 1 diabetes, it is essential to prevent them from getting low or high blood sugar. Because so many Type 1 diabetics are children, this responsibility falls to their parents, who must not only care for the child’s condition but also advise them to manage it themselves as they grow up.
Luckily, today there are many tools available to help you manage Type 1 diabetes effectively and simply. Glucose monitors can keep tabs on a child’s blood sugar levels throughout the day. Moreover, widely available test kits and strips make this process easier, and smartphone apps can even help you plan nutritious and diabetic-friendly meals.
Visit the OKRA Care store today to browse our tools that can help you and your loved ones monitor and manage Type 1 diabetes.
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