Type 1 Diabetes: Everything You Need to Know

Every year, 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Many of these individuals are children; about 27 of 100,000 kids ages 5 to 9 are Type 1 diabetic, and that number is expected to grow by 2050.

And yet, even with the large number of people living with this disease, Type 1 diabetes is still largely misunderstood. Many think of it as a “lifestyle disease,” something that comes from eating too much sugar or unhealthy food. In reality, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that diabetics cannot prevent from developing.

Family smiling and enjoying a meal together

So, what are the signs of Type 1 diabetes? If you or your child is Type 1, how can you protect them from high blood sugar? Here is what you need to know to help yourself, your child, or any other loved one effectively manage their Type 1 diabetes and stay healthy and happy.

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.

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 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?

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 the signs of Type 1 diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms

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
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Bedwetting or excessive urination
  • Fast heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Slow-healing cuts

If you notice the signs of Type 1 diabetes in your child, talk to their doctor as soon as possible. Diabetes is a serious condition, and these symptoms need to be addressed right away to help your child live as healthy a life as he or she can. The sooner you can provide your child with the insulin their body needs, the better off your little one will be!

Managing 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 both manage the child’s condition and teach them how to manage it as they get older.

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, test kits and strips make it easy to check blood sugars at home, 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.