Warning Signs Of Type 1 Diabetes


How does early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes save lives?

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune condition that makes the body unable to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Without insulin, our bodies cannot use the sugar in our bloodstream as energy, causing people to experience diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or worse complications, including death.

If an individual goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed, these life-threatening complications become a reality. This is why recognizing the early symptoms of type 1 diabetes is critical. Symptoms may develop rapidly and can be mistaken for the flu or other illnesses and a delayed diagnosis can have serious consequences.

Previously Healthy: Reegan’s Story

In 2013, Darice and Keith Oxendine’s 16-month-old daughter, Reegan, was life-flighted from Scotland Memorial Hospital to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UNC Chapel Hill. She’d suffered complications following a misdiagnosis, despite having shown symptoms of type 1 diabetes for three months prior.

By the time she arrived at UNC and was properly diagnosed, it was too late. The excess sugar in her blood had damaged her vital organs beyond repair. The official cause of death: type 1 diabetes. Read Reegan’s story here.

Rare Until It Happens To You: Kycie’s Story

Kycie Terry, the second youngest of six children, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on January 30th, 2015 while in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Where her story differs from many who live with undiagnosed type 1 and go into DKA is that she ultimately experienced cerebral edema, a condition where fluid builds up around the brain, causing pressure and swelling. This complication was occurring unbeknownst to the healthcare providers treating her at the time, wreaking havoc on Kycie’s brain and nervous system as she slept in her ER room bed.

Less than 1 percent of pediatric patients in DKA experience cerebral edema, making it rare, though this statistic was of little comfort to the Terry family. As her father Josh put it, “It’s always rare until it happens to you.” Read Kycie’s story here.

Who gets type 1?

Anyone, at any age, can be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes—it is neither preventable nor curable. While the cause is unknown, studies prove that genes together with an environmental trigger result in the immune system turning on itself and destroying the body’s beta cells.

Many people are familiar with type 2 diabetes, but there is not enough awareness of type 1. Learn more about other forms of diabetes.

What to do

If you recognize any of the symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. A simple blood or urine test will detect type 1. Every day, thousands of adults and children around the world are diagnosed, but many go undetected. Early diagnosis cannot prevent type 1, but it can head off potentially devastating, and even fatal, health concerns.

Get involved + save lives

Now that you’re aware of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes, how can you get more involved and share this life-saving information? Check out our Warning Signs Awareness Campaign here and learn about how you can receive free posters and other materials to share in your communities, schools, coffee shops, doctor’s offices and so much more. Together, we can see to it that no one experiences life-threatening complications or a preventable tragedy as a result of a delayed or missed type 1 diagnosis.