What type 1 diabetes is not

Type 1 diabetes is NOT the result of a poor diet or a person being too skinny, too fat, or too anything. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own pancreas. Without a functioning pancreas, our body cannot produce insulin. Without insulin, we cannot regulate our blood glucose levels (or blood sugar). Without blood glucose regulation, people with type 1 diabetes are in danger of their blood sugar being too high or too low. Both are deadly if not discovered quickly.

Type 1 diabetes is NOT caused by eating sugar, nor is it cured by staying away from sweets. People with Type 1 diabetes can eat just about every food, even high sugar candy, in moderation. However, all food intake is carefully measured and considered depending on what their blood sugar and metabolism can handle at any given moment. Since blood glucose can change rapidly, people with Type 1 diabetes often have to check it many, many times each day.

Type 1 diabetes does NOT discriminate and is NOT contagious. People of any age, race, or wellness can develop Type 1 diabetes. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, approximately 40,000 children and adults are diagnosed each year in the US. Approximately 18,000 of those are under the age of 18.

Insulin is NOT a cure. While it is true that insulin is given to help a person with Type 1 diabetes regulate their blood glucose level, it does not cure them of the disease. A child with Type 1 diabetes will have to monitor blood sugar levels, manage their food intake, and assess the resulting blood glucose levels by injecting insulin non-stop.

However, diabetes IS sneaky and can be a silent killer. Sadly, both children and adults die every year in the U.S. due to undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include an insatiable thirst, frequent urination (more than ordinary), and an increased appetite often with unexplained weight loss. Parents sometimes report that their first clue was a child who was formally dry at night but begins wetting the bed again, or a child that is using significantly more diapers than normal.

Type 1 diabetes can often be picked up by a simple in-office urine test done for any of the above reasons. Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes is often a great masquerader, looking like a growth spurt, a grumpy kid, or a viral illness. Requesting a urinalysis, also known as a urine “dipstick” can save your child’s life. Without prompt diagnosis, Type 1 diabetes can be deadly.

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long disease, although many are working on a cure! People with Type 1 diabetes can lead full, exciting, amazing lives. Children with Type 1 diabetes can grow up to be professional athletes, CEO’s, surgeons, teachers, or anything they would like! If you have the chance to walk on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, do it. JDRF is an amazing organization that works passionately to support families of children with Type 1 diabetes and is striving to find a cure.

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About Dr. Sara Connolly, Board Certified Pediatrician

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, is a Board Certified Pediatrician who practices in Palm Beach County, Florida. She completed her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she served as Chief Resident. She has a passion for child advocacy and has worked on the local, state, and national level to increase access to care for children. Her interests include nutrition, breastfeeding, and parenting skills.


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