This year during National Awareness Diabetes Week (13–19 July 2014) JDRF, the leading global organisation funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, is focused on raising awareness of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Too often, the symptoms of T1D are recognised only when a patient becomes seriously ill. Being aware of the symptoms early could avoid unnecessary hospital stays and associated serious illness that can have far-reaching effects.
Over 1,800 Australians are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year. One of the most acute complications that can occur when type 1 diabetes is diagnosed at a late stage is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It is a potentially life threatening condition which occurs in more than 35% of patients at diagnosis (Medical Journal of Australia 2012) and is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths in children (Pediatr Diabetes 2009).
The Watts family remember how close they came to losing their son, Jayden, when he was diagnosed just before his 15th birthday. Mother Kristy recalls, 'Jayden became very sick in a short period of time, losing a lot of weight and becoming withdrawn. We noticed some things weren't right, but diabetes never crossed my mind with no family history of it.
'His symptoms just kept getting worse, fast. The GP told me that the machine couldn't read his blood sugar level, it was too high. Type 1 diabetes was diagnosed but that was just the start", Kristy continued. 'We had a mad dash to the emergency room at the hospital where Jayden suddenly started having chest pain. He was confused and had extreme dehydration. I remember how dreadful he looked. It wasn't long before he was admitted into the Paediatric ICU suffering diabetic ketoacidosis.
'One day we hope that Jayden's life becomes easier. We dream of a cure. We hope that the future will bring this to him and to everyone living with type 1 diabetes. We'll continue to fundraise for JDRF. But also, I want to educate those around me. I want to tell them the symptoms so they know, just in case."
If you have two or more of the symptoms below, ask your doctor about type 1 diabetes.
Vomiting and stomach pain
Lack of interest or concentration
Type 1 diabetes affects over 122,300 people in Australia alone. As part of National Diabetes Awareness Week, JDRF has launched a campaign to distribute pamphlets highlighting the common symptoms of type 1 diabetes in doctors' surgeries to help Australians become aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
Typically striking young people, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys the body's ability to produce insulin, which is vital for life. Type 1 diabetes requires a daily regime of multiple injections or continuous infusion of insulin through a pump, as well as 6-8 finger-prick blood tests, just to stay alive. Researchers are working hard to understand the complicated mix of genetic and environmental factors that may cause or trigger this disease. However, it is certain that going on a diet or cutting down on sugar doesn't stop type 1 diabetes.
Further information, interviews or images, please call Catherine Strong 02 9020 6114.
JDRF is the leading global organisation funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF's goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people's lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organisation with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF is currently sponsoring USD$568 million in scientific research in 17 countries, with over USD$27 million currently devoted to research programs in Australia. For more information, please visit www.jdrf.org.au.