There’s a pretty good reason why type 1 diabetes isn’t referred to as “juvenile diabetes” anymore. It’s not just for kids, that’s for sure!
Here’s what I mean: 85% of of people who have type 1 diabetes are adults!
Yep, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), type 1 diabetes is growing and it grows by 3% each year. Every day, some 80 people are being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. That’s more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults each year. Three million Americans have it…and that number gets bigger each year.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by a problem with the immune system. It attacks the cells which make insulin in an organ in the body called the “pancreas”. Insulin is the chemical which helps the body use sugar for energy and growth. (That sugar is called “glucose”.) Without insulin, glucose can’t get used by the body’s cells, so the sugar builds up in the blood. This build up can cause serious damage just about everywhere, but especially to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. It can hurt circulation leading to the loss of toes, feet, legs, and more. It can be extra dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children.
Warning signs often appear quite suddenly and include:
- Being thirsty, often, and a lot
- Having to pee all the time
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Feeling hungry all the time
- Sudden weight loss
- Sudden changes in vision
- Difficult or “heavy” breathing
- A “fruity” breath odor
Anyone who develops any of these symptoms, whether juvenile or adult, should see their healthcare provider right away. Type 1 diabetes needs attention. Without good care, the damage will grow and most of it cannot be undone.
People with type 1 diabetes need extra insulin to keep their blood sugar under control. It takes a lot of careful monitoring, watching what you eat and drink, regular sleep, and good exercise routines. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to do to stay on top of type 1 diabetes.
While advances are being made, there is not yet a cure for type 1 diabetes. It can be controlled, but it takes serious effort. There’s definitely nothing juvenile about it!
(You know, the JDRF may need to consider a new name!)
Posted – June 19, 2012