Education key in treating Type 1 diabetes
Posted September 16, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — When 17-year-old Trey Shearin was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January of last year, his entire life changed.
As is the case with most Type 1 diabetes patients, Shearin had to rethink simple day-to-day activities.
With Type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing insulin, a hormone which converts sugar, starches and other food into energy. Although the causes are not entirely known, some scientists believe the body's own defense system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. People with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times every day or continually infuse insulin through a pump.
Shearin was diagnosed when he went to the doctor for a physical so he could play baseball at Ravenscroft's upper school.
"When I went in there, I took a blood sugar test and it was around 350," he said. "I realized that I had been drinking a lot of water and what not and I had been peeing a bunch. At first it was a little overwhelming."
Shearin and his parents had to learn to manage the diabetes, figuring out when he needed insulin injections and how to inject them.
But when Shearin went to school, he, like many other children with diabetes, had to be prepared to handle him symptoms on his own.
Part of the responsibility fell on Shearin, who knows how to count the carbohydrates in the food he chooses and program the insulin pump he started using three months ago. The pump includes an emergency glucogon injection in case he passes out from a severe sugar low.
He also educated his brother, a few of his friends and a school nurse on what to do if ever passed out at school.
Thanks to education and preparation, Shearin said he knows he can continue to manage his disease and live the active life he was used to before the diagnosis.
"I need to tone down my insulin a little bit, or i need to eat some sugar before so I don't drop too low if I'm going to be really active," Shearin said.
The Triangle Walk to Cure Diabetes, held at the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek, is Oct. 29 at 8 a.m. The 2-mile walk raises money to help find a cure for diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Drowsiness, lethargy
- Sugar in urine
- Sudden vision changes
- Increased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
- Heavy, labored breathing
- Stupor, unconsciousness