By Gina Kraman
Before insulin was invented 83 years ago, children suffering with Type 1 diabetes lived only about one year after diagnosis. With today’s better screening, modern medicines, and active healthier lifestyles, children with Type 1 diabetes can live long, normal lives, explains Dr. Reshma Ajmere, pediatrician, Woodridge Clinic.
Previously known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. About five to ten percent of people with diabetes have
Type 1, compared to the more common Type 2. (For Type 2 diabetics, the body becomes resistant to its insulin, or doesn’t make enough.)
Dr. Ajmere explains that in Type 1, the body doesn’t produce insulin, the hormone needed to convert food’s sugar and starches into energy needed throughout the body. Type 1 diabetes in an autoimmune disease, meaning the person’s own body attacked and destroyed his or her insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Consequently, sufferers need to inject themselves with insulin, enabling glucose to reach, and fuel, the organs, and not accumulate in the blood to cause damage.
Signs of Type 1 diabetes include weight loss (since the body can’t burn carbohydrates for fuel, it burns fat and muscle to survive), frequent urination, and excessive thirst. A blood test confirms the diagnosis.
“Newly diagnosed patients are referred to an endocrinologist, who specializes in hormone-related imbalances and diseases. The patient and family will learn how to count carbohydrates to calculate insulin dosages,” Dr. Ajmere says. “We educate children and parents on how to manage the disease successfully.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, it’s unclear what triggers
Type 1, but researches believe genetic predispositions and environmental factors may be responsible. While there is no cure, ongoing studies continue to search for answers and improved insulin-delivery systems.
For more information, call Woodridge Clinic, (630) 910-1177, or visit www.woodridgeclinic.com. Woodridge Clinic has offices in Woodridge, Lemont, and Lombard.