Type 1 diabetes: do you know the red flags

A close family friend recently had to have her leg amputated. Her long hospital stay and harrowing post surgery physical therapy has been painful yet character building. This young woman is only 65 years old. In my opinion, way to young to lose a limb. Why did she have to lose such an important body part? She has suffered almost her whole life from type 1 diabetes.

When I heard about our friend’s story, I went into panic. I have a nephew who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few years back. Is this what he has to look forward to? Is this what his life will be?

Diabetes is a devastating disease that affects the body’s ability to produce insulin which regulates blood sugar. Those who have diabetes have to constantly watch what they eat so they do not spike or drop their blood sugar.

Type 2 diabetes is usually adult onset due to lifestyle choices, but type 1 diabetes is often genetic. What is scary as that type 1 diabetes can be found in very young children. Left untreated, it could be deadly.

After reading a book in elementary school about a girl with diabetes, I was terrified that I would get the disease. The symptoms are practically ingrained in my mind as I convinced myself I was doomed to get diabetes, even if I only had a hint of a symptom. (I am grateful and thankful to say that I do not have diabetes. Just an overactive and panicky young mind.)

If diabetes runs in your family, you need to know and be able to recognized these symptoms in your children.

Look for:

  • Constant thirst
  • Excessive urinating (often from all of the drinking)
  • Blurry vision
  • Unexplained exhaustion
  • Increased hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss

So what if you are experiencing a lot of the symptoms? Visit your doctor for a blood test just to make sure. Your health insurance coverage should include the test, and later management. If the test is positive, you have some options to control the diabetes.

Insulin therapy is one of the most common ways to treat type 1 diabetes.  However, insulin is not the only necessary way to manage diabetes. Those who suffer from diabetes must watch and manage what they eat. The most important thing to watch and track is carbohydrates. I’m not sure about you but I have a hard enough time counting calories. Adding in carbohydrates seems like a mess. Which is why diabetes in young children is so terrifying. My young nephew has to constantly be reminded to count his carbs and enter in his insulin. While most 10-year-old boys are running around, messing in dirt, he has to constantly watch what he eats. This often results in turning down food, like doughnuts, that his friends would nosh on without a second thought.

The good news is with new developments and advancements in medicine, my nephew might not end up like my close family friend. And just think, he already has a leg up for his nutrition classes in high school.