PARENTS MUST KNOW...

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TYPE 1 DIABETES IS LIFE-THREATENING!

Many times, I hear my teenagers complain about aches and pains much like we all do at times.  Most of the time I attribute it to growing pains or whatever bug might be going around and don’t give it much thought (pre COVID-19).  But what if it wasn’t something as simple as that?  What if there was actually something happening inside your child’s body that you were not aware of or even heard of for that matter?  This was exactly what happened to my son when he was just 2-years old.

My son Dylan had the flu, or at least that’s what I thought.  He had been sick for a few days feeling weak, constantly drinking fluids and his diapers would get so wet and heavy that they would seep through his clothing, something I had not seen before.  When I took him to the doctor, I was told it was a cold virus, no big deal right? We went home but Dylan continued to grow weaker by the day.  I took him back to the doctor but this time to Urgent Care.  Describing the symptoms my son was having of excessive thirst, urinating through his diaper, weakness, and weight loss, the doctor looked him over but performed no lab work.  He was now diagnosed with an ear infection and he was prescribed antibiotics.  The very next day, my 2-year-old son came down the stairs and collapsed.  What doctors’ thought was a simple cold virus, was actually something life-threatening… Type 1 Diabetes.

By the time Dylan was diagnosed, his blood sugar level was 538 (normal is 70 – 120), he was in Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA is a life-threatening complication of high blood glucose levels), his veins were collapsed due to dehydration, and he required a 4-day hospital stay in the ICU.  I will never forget the nurse telling me “It’s a good thing you got him in, he may not have survived the night.”  

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas produces little to no insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and is needed to survive.  People with T1D are insulin dependent for life and must inject insulin through multiple daily injections or an insulin pump.  ANYONE can be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes from infancy to adulthood, not just children.  T1D has nothing to do with diet or being sedentary; it is not preventable, not reversible, children do not outgrow it, and there is currently no cure, however we are hopeful for cure research being done.

Parental awareness is key in identifying the onset symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes and early diagnosis.  Undiagnosed T1D can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis better known as DKA.  DKA is a serious and sometime fatal complication of diabetes and must be treated immediately.  Sadly, we have seen too many children and adults pass away from going undiagnosed.

Often times Type 1 Diabetes is mistaken for a virus because the symptoms look very similar which can make it difficult to properly diagnose.  T1D can also be mistaken for strep throat, a urinary tract infection, or a growth spurt to name a few.  

Recently the CDC announced that children who have had a COVID-19 infection have a higher risk for developing diabetes compared with those who did not contract COVID-19.  All the more reason parental awareness is key.

It is for this reason I, along with Co-Founder, Michelle Thornburg, founded EASE T1D, a California nonprofit that focuses on awareness and education on Type 1 Diabetes.  Knowing the symptoms saves lives.  If your child exhibits the top 4 symptoms described above, ask your doctor to rule out T1D with a simple finger-stick blood test to check for elevated glucose levels.  A one-day delay in diagnosis can in some cases be the difference between life and death. 

I’m thankful to God everyday that my son survived and had no life-altering complications.  He is now 20-years old and a sophomore in college.  

Please visit our website at www.easet1d.org to learn more.

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