Opinion

Diabetes-related risks warrant greater awareness

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and since I am a Type 1 diabetic, I want to take some time to share some of the warning signs of Type 1 diabetes.

Because some of the symptoms are similar to the flu or even to things people experience while going through puberty, diabetes unfortunately can go undetected.

People have died because of this. Type 1 diabetes is often referred to as “juvenile diabetes” because it’s usually diagnosed in childhood.

This name is misleading because you don’t grow out of it, and it can also be diagnosed in adulthood.

For example, one of my friends was diagnosed Type 1 diabetic last summer, at 20.

I was diagnosed a few days after Christmas when I was 11.

My parents noticed that I had been eating a lot but not gaining any weight, even though I was growing a lot taller. I was constantly drinking water and going to the bathroom, even during the night, which I never had done before. I was also experiencing terrible mood swings and lack of focus.

Again, many of these things are consistent with any 11-year old’s experiences, but the main thing that concerned them was the constant peeing.

They had my Type 2 diabetic grandfather check my sugar, and it was higher than a normal person’s should be.

I then saw the doctor, who called that night and said I needed to go to the hospital.

My blood sugar was in the 300s, which is quite high, but I’ve heard of people being diagnosed with sugars reading over 1,000.

The doctors said we caught it early and that I wouldn’t have any long-term organ damage.

Not everyone is as lucky.

It’s really important to know the warning signs because if you don’t catch them, or don’t catch them early enough, you could go into DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), suffer other severe illnesses or even die.

Some of the most common symptoms are constant hunger, constant thirst and dry mouth, increased urination, bed wetting in children who have not had issues with bed wetting in the past, unintended weight loss (or inability to gain weight), fatigue and physical weakness, mood swings and blurred vision.

Another symptom to watch out for is unexplained fruity smelling breath because this often precedes DKA.

The most common age groups to be diagnosed are ages 4 to 7 and 10 to 14, but diagnosis can happen at any age.

If you or someone you know shows some of these symptoms, you should book a screening for diabetes. Both Walgreens and CVS offer it.

If the results are abnormal, you will need to see a doctor or go to a hospital.

Type 1 diabetes is a serious illness that can’t go untreated for prolonged periods of time.

If untreated, you risk health problems such as cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, nerve and kidney damage, retinopathy, glaucoma and gum disease.

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