Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
1860 Town Center Drive
Reston, VA 20190
When Diabetes Hits Home
Two years ago, someone within my home was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, type I. Even though I was educated as a physician about diabetes, I had no idea that it could be so hard to personally deal with this disease.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 20.8 million children and adults in the United States have some type of diabetes.
Type I is an autoimmune disorder and usually develops in children/young adults. A person with type I does not produce insulin. One in every 400-600 children has type I diabetes.
Type II (insulin-resistant diabetes) is more common in adults. In recent years, there are even children being diagnosed with type II, due to a lack of regular exercise, poor diet, and obesity. Genetics plays a large role in those with type II. It goes highly undiagnosed, since the human body can tolerate type II easier than type I.
Gestation is related to pregnancy. Most women recover from this type after their babies are delivered.
Medications can sometimes also cause diabetes mellitus, as in the long-term systemic intake of steroids.
All types of diabetes can lead to serious complications and affect your nerves, kidneys, heart, eyes, and other organs. Diabetes, regardless of type, is a serious disease and should be properly treated.
My personal experience is with type I. Since this disease usually develops in children/adolescents, the diagnosis can be more difficult, and a delayed diagnosis may lead to life-long complications. Early detection is crucial. If any of the following symptoms are observed, the child’s pediatrician should be contacted immediately:
- Bed wetting
- Polyuria frequent urination
- Polydipsia thirst/drinking more than usual
- Polyphagia eating more than usual/always being hungry
- Stomach aches, headaches, nausea, and vomiting
- Fatigue not wanting to play/complaining of tiring very quickly,
Initially, these symptoms can be hard to recognize, but as the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen, becoming more obvious. In my situation, I knew of the symptoms, but I ignored them, hoping that they would subside. My denial kept me from accepting a reality that I did not want to deem imaginable. Eventually, I took him to his pediatrician, prior to any serious complications.
In many cases, children get sick prior to being diagnosed with diabetes. Parents believe their child has the flu or a urinary tract infection, and they wait until the child goes into ketoacidosis, a serious condition where the body has dangerously high levels of ketones/acids that build-up in the blood and can lead to diabetic coma or even death. Children with this condition need immediate attention and should be taken to the emergency room.
Testing for diabetes is easy. A simple urine test can diagnose the disease. Besides, what’s to lose if you’re wrong and the test is negative?