I don’t think it will surprise anyone when I say I am passionate about beauty. You may, however, be surprised to learn I am also passionate about raising awareness about type 1 diabetes. This comes from having a daughter who developed type 1 diabetes at the age of 14.
As it is World Diabetes Day today, I wanted to take the opportunity to post some information about type 1 diabetes as, unlike type 2 diabetes, I have found there is very little awareness of the condition. I think this YouTube video gets the message across really well. I’ve popped it at the beginning of this post in case you don’t make it to the end!
I hear or read something about ‘diabetes’ in the media on a weekly basis usually involving the words ‘sugar‘ and ‘obesity‘; what is not made clear is they are talking about type 2 diabetes, (which accounts for up to 95% of all people with diabetes and can be treated with a healthy diet and increased exercise, often alongside medication – source diabetes.org.uk), not type 1. It is incredibly frustrating and can make life even harder for those living with the condition.
Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by a poor diet or lifestyle. It is, in fact, an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Nothing can be done to prevent it and it can affect anyone, although usually develops suddenly in children and young adults. Symptoms include increased thirst and needing to wee more, along with weight loss and lack of energy.
Insulin is crucial to life, as it transfers the energy from food (glucose) from the blood into the cells of the body. Without insulin, glucose levels in the blood rise and the body cannot function properly. Therefore, someone with type 1 has to take insulin (via injections or an insulin pump), pretty much whenever food with carbohydrate is eaten.
As well as blood glucose rising, it can also drop to dangerous levels. This can be caused through exercise, not eating or having too much insulin. This is can also be life threatening and is treated by eating a sugary snack or drink. It’s a constant balancing act.
Regular blood glucose monitoring is essential usually via a finger pricker and testing strips, multiple times a day – every day. There are lots of situations that cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate such as physical activity, illness, hormones and even the weather. Day to day living is challenging.
My daughter is ashamed of having type 1 diabetes and is willing to compromise her health so as not to let people know. This is because of the way ‘diabetes’ is reported in the media. For some reason, it seems to be socially acceptable for people to joke about ‘diabetes‘ (I have even seen a birthday card with a cake and reference to diabetes on it). Whether it’s type 1 or type 2 it is not acceptable.
With Christmas fast approaching you can give to type 1 diabetes charity JDRFUK as you shop online via Give as you Live – at no cost to you, simply by shopping. Click on the links for more information!