Monday, August 25, 2014

Let's Raise Some Awareness!

One thing I have learned about T1D is that it can be diagnosed much earlier than R2's with a lot less worry and fewer potentially severe repercussions. Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease that takes several months to be noticed. A simple cold can trigger the immune reaction (or so the theory goes at the moment) that runs amok and targets the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Over the course of the next six months or so, the body stops making enough insulin to pass the glucose (sugar) from food into the cells to be used as fuel. The body instead burns fat which eventually leads up to ketoacidosis, when the blood is poisoned with ketones, an acidic by-product of the breakdown of fat. We were well into the ketoacidosis stage when we went to the ER with R2, spurred by his rapid breathing (we thought maybe he had pneumonia or something like that). This nice, simple infographic from the International Diabetes Federation's Life for a Child program details the main symptoms of T1D onset which can be noticed before it gets to that dangerous point.

We were completely unaware of these signs, and so missed an opportunity for his diagnosis a week before we ended up in the ER when he had a regular check-up (I don't blame the doctor at all. Really, I don't. A first-time mom of a toddler doesn't know what "excessive" thirst is, among other things.). A lot of attention is given to Type 2 prevention and risk factors, while Type 1, which most often presents between age 5 and 21, is overlooked. As of right now, Type 1 is completely un-preventable and un-curable and diet can't fix it. I wish posters like this one, designed for use in third-world clinics, were posted in our doctors' offices as well. Maybe if we talk about it more, and make sure to specify which type of diabetes we are discussing (that's a rant for another time), more cases will be diagnosed earlier, with better care, and less stress for everyone.

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