Know the warning signs for type 1 diabetes

When Sonia Sotomayor was named Supreme Court nominee, the type 1 diabetes community seized the news as proof that diabetes is no longer a life-limiting condition.

Unfortunately, the number of children with type 1 diabetes — Ms. Sotomayor was diagnosed at age 8 — is on the upswing. In type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile-onset diabetes, the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin are destroyed by an autoimmune process. Type 1 diabetics must regiment their diets and take insulin multiple times a day to control blood sugar levels and prevent diabetic coma.

Health care professionals don’t know why the numbers are rising or exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, but Dr. Soumya Adhikari, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the warning signs are clear.

“The biggest thing to watch out for is somebody who starts having to go to the bathroom (to urinate) all the time or drinking all the time,” says Dr. Adhikari, who practices at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. “In the Texas heat, people typically see that and think, ‘It’s hot — they’re probably urinating more because they are drinking more,’ and nine out of 10 times that’s right. But, if it seems atypical compared to what they did last summer, or they’re losing weight or otherwise seem ill, it’s probably worth at least considering having their blood sugar tested.”

Other symptoms can include abdominal pain, sudden vision changes, drowsiness, nausea, and heavy, labored breathing.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in pediatrics.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

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