In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, I'm going to have a series of posts over the month that hopefully help to educate and raise awareness about diabetes. I know I have some readers that aren't associated with Type 1 diabetes, so I hope this is beneficial.
When people ask me how I knew that Emma should be checked for diabetes, my answer is simple: she was drinking an enormous amount of water and peeing a lot! It was that simple.
Diabetics without insulin cannot process carbohydrates and convert them to energy (because they need insulin to do that). Therefore, their system tries to dispose of the carbohydrates and they end up as sugar in the person's blood stream. Having excess sugar in the blood stream makes the person thirsty. They keep drinking and drinking trying to quench a thirst that is unquenchable.
When a person's body doesn't get its energy from carbohydrates, it burns body fat to get energy. The resulting by-product of that process are ketones. This process makes a diabetic lose weight and ketones are poisonous to the human body.
The excess water the person is drinking, combined with the ketones produced by the body, makes a person need to use the bathroom A LOT. Its so extreme that it can be quite obvious that a person needs to go all the time.
Most people that have identified a person with diabetes, or suspected a person has diabetes, usually picks up on these two symptoms - drinking a lot of water and using the bathroom a lot.
Some of the other related symptoms include: loss of weight, dark circles under the eyes, lethargy due to lack of energy from food, and extreme irritability.
Identifying a person at risk to Type 1 diabetes EARLY is key to help them get the diagnosis and begin the insulin treatment that is crucial to save their life. Many diabetics have been diagnosed because they were admitted to the hospital almost in a coma from the extreme high blood sugar levels.
Being aware of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes and discussing any concerns with the family doctor is the key to early diagnosis.