Sunday, March 12, 2017

Signs of Type 1 Diabetes

Text books and doctors can give us the definition of type 1 diabetes and make it sound pretty simple. However, it is the furthest thing from simple! Matter of fact, it feels like a life-long (mathematical) science experiment not only to those who are diagnosed, but also to the scientists who have worked, and continue to work, diligently for a cure. All of that being said, let me fully disclose that I started college in intermediate math, failed accounting twice and chemistry three times. Fast forward an (obvious) college major/degree change and many years later and, ironically, I am in charge of managing my daughter's T1D. If I can do this thang...then YOU can do this thang! #inthistogether

So. What the heck is Type 1?

Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the body’s immune system attacking its own body (not cool, right?!), and in this case, it is part of the pancreas. To date, scientists and doctors are still uncertain as to why this is. However, what happens is the immune system mistakenly recognizes the insulin-producing cells called ‘islets’ (pronounced EYE-lets) in the pancreas as foreign and, therefore, ultimately destroys them. So what’s the big deal about islets? Well, islets are the cells that sense glucose in the blood and, in response, produce the necessary amount of insulin to normalize blood sugars. (Insulin, by the way, is the ‘Gate Keeper’ or ‘The Keeper of the Key’ that opens your cells and allows the glucose to enter which then allows you to use the glucose for energy. No islets = No insulin...No Key.) Without insulin, the sugar stays and congregates in the blood. This results in the body’s cells starving from the lack of glucose. And, if left untreated, the high level of ‘blood sugar’ can damage kidneys, nerves, heart and eyes. High blood sugar can also lead to coma and/or death. All of the aforementioned, categorizes type 1 diabetes as an autoimmune disease.

Know the Signs:

Once it was determined that MBG had type 1 and was admitted to the hospital, her BG (blood glucose) level was over 600 (#overachiever). However, had I known the signs, I could have prevented such a dangerous and harmful BG. All of that being said, please know that NOT ALL of the following signs need to be present for a type 1 diagnosis. Some of the most frequent signs are:

1.     Frequent Urination
2.     Extreme Thirst
3.     Unintentional/Unexplained Weight Loss
4.     Increased Hunger
5.     Fatigue
6.     Blurry Vision
7.     Sweating
8.   Nausea and/or Vomiting
9.     Peripheral neuropathy
10.  Mononeuropathy, (aka ‘focal neuropathy’)
11.  Autonomic neuropathy

Also know that these signs can, and often are, mistaken for the stomach flu or virus, strep throat, growth spurt, and urinary tract infection. Equipped with this information, ask your doctor for a urinary test to test for ketones and a blood test to test BG levels. Type 1 diabetes hasn't been proven to be 100% genetic. Whether you have a family history of T1D or not, if you are experiencing the aforementioned, take action!

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