Janet recalls her daughter, Addison, exhibiting flu-like symptoms soon after her first birthday. When she called the pediatrician, she was told to bring in Addison right away. At the hospital, Addison’s blood glucose level was shown to be six times the normal level. At just 15 months old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“From that day forward, our lives have been completely changed,” Damon, Janet’s husband, says. A few years later, Addison’s baby brother, Nolan, also was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that allows sugar to enter cells and produce energy, resulting in a buildup of glucose in the blood. It usually presents during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, which affects approximately 29 million Americans, is more common in adults and develops as a result of the body failing to produce enough insulin or becoming resistant to it.
Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include family history, genetic predisposition and age.
Symptoms of the condition can include increased thirst, frequent urination, bedwetting in children, extreme hunger, weight loss, irritability, fatigue, blurred vision and vaginal yeast infection in girls.
Although there is no cure for diabetes, the condition can be controlled. Janet and Damon found ways to manage their children’s illness, including setting night-time alarms to check each child’s blood sugar and administer insulin if necessary. Diabetes requires constant vigilance, as too high blood sugar levels or too low levels each can have disastrous effects on one’s health. Long-term complications of Type 1 diabetes can include heart and blood vessel disease, skin and mouth conditions (such as bacterial or fungal infections), and damage to the nerves, kidneys, eyes or feet.
The couple’s son, Nolan, had difficulty expressing how he was feeling throughout the day, which led to several close calls. To help keep track of his blood sugar levels and catch irregularities faster, the couple obtained a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor. The device uses a small sensor that attaches under the patient’s skin and sends signals to a receiver, which can set off an alarm when glucose levels become unsafe.
“Looking back, we really don’t know how we lived without it,” Janet says. She adds that after the success they saw with Nolan, they obtained a monitor for Addison as well.
Learn more about diabetes.