Understanding juvenile diabetes

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Eight percent of the U.S. population is living with diabetes. While the vast majority has Type II diabetes, Type I affects children and young adults.

18-year-old Jacob Terracina is an avid soccer player at Barbe High School who had never faced any health scares until an alarming trend started last September.  "In the middle of the night I was waking up with my mouth completely dry and bladder completely full," said Jacob, "and in less than a week, I had lost about 11 pounds."

Jacob knew something was wrong, but a diagnosis of Type I diabetes was not what he expected to hear.  "I was just alarmed that my whole life was gonna change," said Jacob.

Diabetes is an insulin deficiency and as CHRISTUS St. Patrick Diabetes Educator Teresa Goree explains, insulin is key to a cell's function.  "What insulin does is it meets sugar at the cell level and opens the door to the cell to allow the sugar to go into the cell where it can be used for energy," said Goree.

In a Type I diabetic, that insulin is not there to start the process - so insulin therapy is needed to help patients manage their condition.  "They will be dependant on insulin from the time they're diagnosed throughout their lifetime," said Goree.

Jacob has had to cut out his favorite sugary foods, but is keeping his diabetes in check with some close monitoring and an insulin pump.  "I have to check my blood sugars at every meal and I have to control my sugar intake," said Jacob.

Diabetes education courses are also helping Jacob learn more about this condition and how to avoid the serious complications that can come along with this diagnosis.  "There are lots of complications including heart disease, strokes, blindness, kidney disease to the point that you'll need kidney dialysis," said Goree.

If diabetes is managed, the risk for complications is small. That's why Jacob is being proactive for his health's sake.  "To just stay active and keep doing what I'm supposed to do," said Jacob.

*The Diabetes Management Center will be hosting a table with more information on childhood diabetes at the "Kids Matter" event at Prien Lake Mall this Saturday, January 30th from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

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