Continuing the Fight Against Type 1 Diabetes

By J1 Reporter Jill Williamson

1,600,000- Not a small number, huh? This number represents the amount of Americans learning to live with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). Out of that 1.6 million, nearly 200,000 American children struggle with this autoimmune disease, which is rarely talked about, but in no way shows any signs of stopping; so, it’s time to educate ourselves.

You might find yourself asking what exactly does Type 1 Diabetes entail? T1D starts when the pancreas can no longer efficiently produce insulin, a hormone that helps to maintain stable blood-sugar levels. Due to this, pancreatic beta cells become ruined. 

There are endless questions surrounding T1D, but one gets asked more frequently above others: What is the cause behind this widespread disease? The question has yet to be entirely answered in a clear manner. Genetics and other various elements are said to play a huge role in the diagnosis process. To get tested for diabetes, a person has to undergo a multitude of tests. One of the first things that gets checked is A1C, which reflects levels of blood sugar over the span of the previous three months. There are also other tests that can be done, such as fasting glucose tests and oral glucose tests. 

Unfortunately, Type 1 Diabetes diagnoses are on the rise. Now, approximately 64,000 new people each year are forced to live with this disease that hinders every aspect of normal, daily life. T1D is not easy by any means- it requires constant attention and effort to remain healthy.

“I’m surprised it’s not talked about more often, especially for the amount of new diagnoses there are each year. Living with diabetes is definitely a struggle, but I’ve grown so accustomed to it because I’ve had it since I was two years old. I have learned to manage it pretty well over the years, but it definitely affects so many different aspects of my life,” junior Anne Marie Edmundson said.

Immediately after being diagnosed, it is a huge adjustment to everyday life. Type 1 Diabetics have to frequently monitor insulin levels through either insulin injections or an insulin pump. In addition, they have to frequently monitor their blood sugar levels in an effort to prevent any obstacles.

As diagnoses are on the rise, this means that cases are expected to continue increasing as time goes on. In fact, the number of Americans diagnosed with T1D is supposed to triple. It is estimated that about 5 million people are expected to have T1D by the year 2050. Out of this number, approximately 600,000 youth are anticipated to be diagnosed. 

With such astronomical statistics, the question you may find yourself to be asking is why is Type 1 Diabetes not part of the conversation more often? Now, more than ever, it is crucial to not only educate yourself on the matter at hand, but also to take that information to educate and inform others around you. Start by learning the warning signs, or symptoms, of T1D. These include more frequent urination, blurry vision, fatigue, increased thirst, and weight loss. If you notice multiple, or all of these symptoms in yourself or a friend, consider looking into testing options. Once you learn about T1D, it becomes your responsibility to become an advocate for yourself and others. 

Over the years, there have been many advances in T1D research. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is one of the leading research organizations that works toward finding the cure for diabetes. This nonprofit organization also provides many resources and treatment options for people with T1D. JDRF has taken new strides in research to make living with T1D more manageable than it has ever been before in history. The organization has worked to improve insulin, pumps, biomarkers, and beta cell biology in comparison to how they were in the past. 

Pictured: People partaking in the JDRF One Walk to raise awareness and money in an effort to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Photo source: jdrf.org

In addition to all of these advancements in research, JDRF has also worked continuously to bring the Type 1 Diabetic community together. Each year, the organization hosts the JDRF One Walk. This walk brings together people who share one thing in common: T1D. Type 1 Diabetics around the country have given a plethora of positive feedback on this walk because they have found comfort in being surrounded by people who understand the struggle of living with the disease. 

Moving forward, start or partake in the conversation to fight against T1D with family, friends, and peers. Each individual doing their own part in this journey will eventually add up to groundbreaking results. 

Questions or concerns? Leave a comment down below or email the reporter at 22.jill.williamson@omahamarian.org!

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