There are a few types of diabetes and none of them can be “caught” like a cold or flu.
- Type 1
- Type 2
- Gestational Diabetes
- Pet Diabetes – yep even your dog or cat can get diabetes!
Type 1 Diabetes
Many kids with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes but only about 1 in every 10 people with diabetes has this form. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin to unlock the door to the body’s cells.
Scientists are still studying why some people get type 1 diabetes. The causes could be one or a combination of:
- The genes that come from mom and dad
- Autoimmune reaction – When the body attacks a part of itself
- Our environment – Coming into contact with a virus or chemical
The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can show up almost overnight.
Michaela was 8 years old when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and like a lot of kids and parents they didn’t really understand what was happening right away.
First she was really thirsty all the time. She drank bottles and bottles of juice and water and could never seem to quench her thirst. Then she started having to pee all the time – sometimes every hour and a couple of times she even wet the bed at night.
Her parents were confused – that hadn’t happened in a long time! They didn’t scold her for wetting the bed but she felt pretty bad about it.
She was feeling weak and sleepy all the time and she had a scrape from falling down that wasn’t getting better.
Then one morning when her mom called her to get up to go to school she felt really bad and had trouble getting out of bed. At first her mom thought she just didn’t want to go to school but when she collapsed, her mom rushed her to the hospital and found out her blood sugar was really high and she was told she had Type 1 diabetes.
Michaela had to stay in the hospital for a few days and then she was allowed to go home but her life changed a lot that day. Now she has to take several shots of insulin everyday just to stay alive.
If you get Type 1 diabetes you will need to check to see if you have too much sugar in your blood many times during the day. You also have to take insulin every day to stay alive!
If you have a friend with Type 1 diabetes you may see them snacking in the classroom. They need to do this to keep from getting too weak to do class work so don’t be jealous – they would rather not have diabetes!
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the result of insulin not working properly. Sometimes the key might not open the door or it might only open the door part way.
The reasons people develop Type 2 are more complex and include:
- If you have family members with diabetes
- If you are African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander or Native American
- Eating a diet high in white rice, pasta, breads and cereals, processed or fast foods and sugary drinks
- Being overweight
- Being a couch potato
Even though most people who get Type 2 diabetes are older (40) more and more kids and teens are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Ty was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He had always been kind of a stocky kid growing up and his mother thought it was just “baby fat” that he would grow out of when he became a teenager so his parents weren’t too concerned about his weight. Because he was a “big” kid he was encouraged to try out for the middle school football team as a defense man and he made it too!
Ty worked really hard at practices and game day. It seemed his hard work was paying off and he started to lose weight. At first his parents thought it was because he was exercising more and a part of his growth spurt. But he kept losing more weight and more weight.
At the same time he was drinking a lot of fluids – water and Gatorade at practice, juice at home and he had to pee all the time! Everyone just figured it was because he was being active that he needed the fluids he was sweating out.
One day on the football field he couldn’t see the players on the field – everything was blurry. The blurriness didn’t go away either and he got scared and finally he told his parents. They were concerned that maybe he had suffered a head injury during practice and took him to the doctor.
The doctor asked him a bunch of questions about his health and noticed that he’d lost a lot of weight recently. The doctor decided to do some blood tests and found out that Ty had Type 2 diabetes.
When he was first diagnosed he had to take insulin once every day and four pills to get his blood sugar under control. In addition, he had to change the types of foods he ate regularly. He was still able to play football and continued to lose a little more weight to get him in healthy shape. Within 6 months he was able to stop taking his insulin shot but he still has to take his pills, watch his weight, be active and eat right.
The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are the same as those for Type 1 diabetes but also include blurry vision or a feeling of numbness (or pins and needles) in your feet and legs.
Good News! Sometimes Type 2 diabetes can be prevented.
This is a special kind of diabetes that women get when they are going to have a baby. They have to take good care of themselves to make sure their baby is born healthy.
If they eat right and exercise the diabetes may go away after their baby is born.
Nearly 1 in 4 teenagers already have pre-diabetes. This is a condition where you are already on the road to diabetes – if you don’t do something about it. Most people who have pre-diabetes don’t take it very seriously. If they don’t they will develop Type 2 diabetes in as little as 5 – 10 years.
If you find out you have pre-diabetes you still have time to do something about it!
Even your dog or cat could get diabetes – for many of the same reasons people get Type 2 diabetes being overweight or physically inactive. You can help your pet (and yourself too) by taking some time to walk them or play with them every day and make sure they don’t eat too much.