A diabetes diagnosis can seem scary and overwhelming, but with the right knowledge and management methods, it doesn’t have to be.
Loyal Coshway, MD, with ProMedica Physicians Pediatric Endocrinology, explains that Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes that she treats in her pediatric patients.
What is Type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system sees the pancreas as a virus and therefore fights off the insulin that it produces. Without insulin, your body is not able to properly normalize and lower blood sugar, resulting in consistently high blood sugar. If left untreated, diabetes will eventually result in diabetic ketoacidosis – a complication of diabetes that is life-threatening if not treated promptly.
“Symptoms of untreated Type 1 diabetes include increased thirst and urination,” Dr. Coshway explains. “This is due to your kidneys trying to flush out the excess blood sugar that is not being regulated by insulin.”
Additional symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, unintentional weight loss, lethargy and feeling very hungry even after eating. If diabetic ketoacidosis develops, patients may experience symptoms including severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, trouble breathing and dehydration.
If symptoms are present, your doctor may perform tests to see if you have diabetes. Diabetes is diagnosed by measuring blood glucose (sugar) and hemoglobin A1C and conducting urine studies.
Although there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, it can be regulated with medication and more easily managed with technology.
“People with Type 1 diabetes can still eat sugar and carbohydrates, they just have to check their blood sugar and take insulin multiple times a day,” Dr. Coshway shares. Insulin must be administered via injection through a pen, syringe or insulin pump. Insulin cannot be taken orally because it would be broken down by stomach acid.
Management of Type 1 diabetes has gotten easier as technology has advanced. Newer insulin pumps come with sensors that continuously monitor blood sugar and auto-correct blood sugar in between meals. This helps blood sugar to remain more stable throughout the day, resulting in fewer negative side effects of low or high blood sugar.
“Diabetes is a lot of hard work, but with practice, it does get easier. It shouldn’t be an obstacle to achieving what you want to achieve,” Dr. Coshway encourages.