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Rise in Type 1 Diabetes Linked to Stress

June 25, 2016
Plain English Version

Warning Signs

Type 1 diabetes is more serious than Type 2. Obesity is the biggest reason for the increase in Type 2. Losing weight, exercising and watching your diet are the best ways to manage Type 2 diabetes.

It used to be called juvenile diabetes because children and teens were more likely than adults to get it. When more adults began getting it, the name was changed to Type 1.

We do not know the cause(s) of Type 1 diabetes. It is treated by insulin. Insulin keeps the blood sugar glucose from damaging tissues and threatening life. About ten percent of diabetes cases are Type 1.

The number of Type 1 cases is rising. Scientists looked at changes in the environment that might cause the rise. They thought infections or high birth weight could play a role. Other causes might be drinking cow’s milk and digesting glutens.

Scientists are now looking at “serious life stress” as a cause of Type 1 diabetes.

In a recent study, nearly 10,500 healthy children were followed from age 2 to about age 14. Most of the children went to health clinics. Scientist got information from health clinics, parents and schools.

The researchers found that serious stress increased the chances of a child getting Type 1 diabetes by three times.

Children were stressed by death or illness in their families. They were stressed by divorce or separation and by serious accidents or family conflicts.

There is now a debate on why these stressful events can cause Type 1 diabetes.

Undue stress creates higher demand for insulin. Certain cells may not be able to meet the higher demand. Stress also may cause an imbalance in the immune system. The study director said resistance to stress induced insulin was probably “the most important” explanation.

Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unplanned weight loss, irritability, fatigue and weakness or blurred vision. Girls may experience vaginal yeast infections.

Untreated Type 1 diabetes will cause very serious health problems. People need to be alert to symptoms and seek medical help when alarmed.

Source: The New York Times April 20, 2015

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