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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

November 16, 2022
Every month is Diabetes Awareness Month

In the United States alone, nearly 300,000 people under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with some form of diabetes. And while a new diagnosis might be frightening to families unfamiliar with the condition, the good news is that most patients can learn to manage their disease and live healthy and fruitful lives.

So, while November is officially Diabetes Awareness Month, it’s important that patients and their families practice diabetes awareness EVERY month. One of the best weapons we have against the disease is information. Below are nine of the most common questions that Phoenix Children’s Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes Division patients and families ask.

  1. What is the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?
    While both conditions can cause high blood sugar levels that can lead to serious health complications, they operate differently. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder that usually shows up in children and young adults. In type 1 patients, their bodies attack pancreas cells and prohibit the production of insulin.

    Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults, however more recently there has been an uptick in younger people being diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes develops slowly and is more common in people who are overweight or have family members with type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or their insulin does not work properly.
  2. What symptoms do people with diabetes show?
    While symptoms can vary between patients, the most common symptoms of diabetes include things like frequent urination, extreme fatigue and feeling very hungry or thirsty. People with diabetes may also experience blurry vision and weight loss 
  3. What kind of complications can arise from diabetes?
    Diabetes can lead to conditions such as kidney disease, blindness, heart disease, nerve damage and other problems. However, many of these complications can be prevented or delayed if the patient takes early and regular action to manage the condition.
  4. Are there natural or herbal cures for diabetes?
    While researchers have made giant strides in recent years, there are no treatments or products that can currently cure the disease. In fact, certain “remedies” may actually interact poorly with a patient’s medication. Consult with your child’s care team before changing any part of their treatment.
  5. What can a person do to manage diabetes?
    It is often said that what a patient does BETWEEN visits is much more important than what can be done in a single appointment. That’s why the Phoenix Children’s Endocrinology department puts so much attention on its comprehensive diabetes education and management program.

    And “comprehensive” is the key word. When a patient is newly diagnosed, they don’t just work with an endocrinologist. Diabetes educators, nurse practitioners, dieticians and psychologists all join the team. “How do I work my insulin pump? How will I plan meals? Who should I talk to if I get sick?” Whether your child is a new patient or a veteran, you’ll always get the answers to the questions you ask (and you’ll even get answers to the questions you didn’t know you had!)
  6. What sort of special foods do diabetics have to eat?
    People with diabetes don’t require “special foods.” In fact, there’s not much difference between a “healthy” meal plan and a “diabetic-friendly” one. Most food plans for people with diabetes are built around limiting the amount of sugar, starch and processed food a person eats. As with all healthy meal plans, portion size is key. 
  7. Do sugary drinks cause diabetes?
    Sugary drinks quickly dump a large amount of sugar into the bloodstream. And research has confirmed that there’s a definite link between drinking sugary beverages and excessive weight gain, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing water over sugary beverages like soda, energy, fruity and/or sports drinks to help prevent type 2 diabetes.
  8. Do people with diabetes have to avoid carbohydrates altogether?
    Not necessarily. Studies have shown that the right combination of protein, fats and carbs can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar more effectively. Consult with your child’s dietitian to learn what balance of carbs is right for them.
  9. What can families do to support their loved one?
    The most important thing anyone can do is to get involved. When it comes to the day-to-day, the key is to stay vigilant. Ask for help. Stay on top of the latest diabetes research. Keep making smart food choices. Stay up on the latest technology.

    Many patients and families have found incredible support in the larger diabetes community. The JDRF, The American Diabetes Association and many other organizations provide all sorts of peer support, tools and resources to help families manage the disease. If you or your child are a patient at Phoenix Children’s, you can always reach out to your team at the Endocrinology and Diabetes Department.

A way forward

Phoenix Children’s Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes cares exclusively for children and teens up to age 18 with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you are concerned that your child may have diabetes and are looking to connect with our program, please call 602-933-0935.

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