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Type 1 Diabetes in Children - What is it and What to Look Out For

Type 1 diabetes affects many children. Jesse Allande, Clinical Manager of Southern Sierra Medical Clinic, explains this condition and its management.
Type 1 Diabetes in Children - What is it and What to Look Out For
Jesse Allande, RN
Jesse Allande, RN was born and raised in eastern Tennessee. She graduated from Roane State Community College with her RN in 2006 and have furthered her education at East Tennessee State University and University of Phoenix. She has always had a passion for helping others and knew she wanted to become a nurse from a young age.  Jesse came to Ridgecrest in 2012 as a traveling nurse in the home health and hospice department but quickly took a permanent position at RRH. She continued to work within the home health and hospice department for a few years before becoming the hospice supervisor.  In 2016 Jesse transferred into the outpatient setting.  In 2018 she began facilitating diabetes education empowerment classes for the community.

Prakash Chandran (Host): You know we commonly think that diabetes is an adult’s disease. But did you know that each year, around 18,000 children are diagnosed with type 1? But what causes this to occur? And what can you do if your child is affected? Let’s talk with Jesse Allande, a Registered Nurse, Clinical Manager at Southern Sierra Medical Clinic.

This is a podcast from Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. I’m Prakash Chandran and Jesse, can you tell us what exactly causes type 1 diabetes?

Jesse Allande, RN (Guest): So, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. So, the body no longer produces insulin.

Host: Okay and how does this type 1 diabetes come up? Is it something – I’ve heard a lot about like eating sugars and carbs, is that type 1 or type 2 diabetes and what’s the difference between the two?

Jesse: So, the sugars and carbs, that is typically type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes like I said, it’s an autoimmune disease. Typically the signs and symptoms for that are going to be increased urination, getting up frequently during the night or even bedwetting for children who previously did not wet the bed. You are also going to see increased thirst, increased hunger, fatigue, rapid weightloss with no explanation. These signs and symptoms come on very suddenly.

Host: And what do we know about what actually causes diabetes to occur in children?

Jesse: So, for type 1 diabetes, that can affect a person of any age, but again, it’s an autoimmune disorder and there’s no real clear explanation for what causes the autoimmune disorders. But that is just where your body’s immune system kind of begins to attack itself. So, for type 1 diabetes, your body is attacking again, those beta cells in the pancreas so that your body does not produce insulin.

Host: Got it and I’m going to have to ask for some clarification here. Does an autoimmune disorder mean that the body turns against itself and really the individual or the subject can’t do anything about it?

Jesse: Exactly. We don’t know what triggers the autoimmune response. And autoimmune disorders can occur in different ways in the body. But specifically for type 1 diabetes, it’s attacking those insulin producing cells. But again, there really is no explanation for what triggers that response within the body.

Host: Okay so, I think this is something that’s pretty important to highlight. Because I know I’m actually about to have my first and I think that when parents see that their kid has diabetes especially type 1, they think it might be their fault and something that they caused but what I’m hearing from you is that it’s something that just kind of happens, right?

Jesse: Exactly. It’s something that just happens. There’s nothing you can do to cause it. there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. The main thing is just knowing the signs and symptoms to be aware of and if you start seeing those signs or symptoms; you really need to contact your pediatrician or your family physician and say heh, I’ve noticed these signs and symptoms in my child, what do you think.

Host: So, you actually already covered some signs and symptoms like weightloss, like extreme thirst, like potentially wetting the bed. Can you maybe cover some more that parents should be aware of?

Jesse: Really those are the main things but increased urination, increased thirst, and these are extreme thirst, extreme urination; going to the bathroom every ten to fifteen minutes. Getting up all night, every night. Sometimes parents may even think a child is just fighting bedtime. Oh, I need to go to the bathroom. I need to go to the bathroom. When really, they are going to the bathroom. Increased thirst, they just can’t get enough to drink. Oftentimes, they are craving sugary drinks because their body feels starved for nutrition because the cells aren’t using those carbohydrates for energy. The increased hunger and then the rapid weightloss.

Host: Okay, so this is not something that’s just marginal like if you see extreme thirst or extreme weightloss you need to go immediately to your pediatrician to get this checked out, right?

Jesse: I would recommend yes, definitely contacting your pediatrician or your family physician and telling them these are the things that I’m seeing, what do you recommend. Oftentimes, to I want to mention you will see fatigue because again, the body isn’t using the glucose that is being taken in for energy, so the child may be really fatigued. They are just really tired.

Host: Okay, so let’s say I take my child in to a pediatrician, I notice all of these things. talk to us a little bit about the treatment options that are available for type 1 diabetes.

Jesse: So, as far as treatment options, the standard treatment for type 1 diabetes is going to be insulin replacement. The only way to do that is going to be either through multiple injections of insulin daily or an insulin pump. So, those are the treatment options. As far as diagnosis, there are going to be blood tests, checking blood sugars, different things like that.

Host: And how is the insulin administered? Like sometimes I hear that there’s like I guess the prick of a thumb and they inject there but I have also heard about these glucose monitors that you can like install under your shirt. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

Jesse: Yes. So, for insulin, with type 1 diabetes, the child would be checking their blood sugar multiple times a day or as you mentioned a continuous glucose monitor which is something that’s worn on the skin and the monitor is able to receive the readings of what the sugar is all throughout the day. As far as insulin, those are going to be injections or shots. So, multiple shots of insulin everyday or again, they may be able to get an insulin pump where you don’t have to actually give yourself a shot every day, multiple times a day; you have a pump that just you push a button and it gives the injection through as little needle that goes under the skin and kind of stays in place for a few days.

Host: And does this just let’s say that you are doing this and putting insulin in your body or your child’s body multiple times a day; I’m assuming it’s something that they can do for themselves. Does this just go away over time or is it something that the child has to live with forever?

Jesse: So, type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition. It does not go away. At this moment in time, there is no cure for it. So, it is going to be a lifelong condition.

Host: So, what do you tell your parents that are really frustrated by the situation? How do you help them help their children cope when they have type 1 diabetes?

Jesse: That’s a good question. The main thing is just providing support, letting parents know that you didn’t do anything to cause it. There’s nothing you could have done to prevent it. And just really good solid education on understanding how to manage reading the blood sugars, deciding on how to give the insulin, counting carbohydrates and really getting a support group together, whether it’s family and friends, teachers, the physician, specialists, going to a support group in the community. There are specific type 1 diabetes support groups that are out there. That’s just really the main thing because it can be overwhelming to have a condition that’s going to last your entire life.

Host: Yeah, absolutely. I love that and I think it’s so important to go out and get support because it might be more common than parents might think. There’s people around them that are going through the same thing. Wouldn’t you say?

Jesse: Yes, so actually, type 1, there are about 1.25 million people living with type 1 diabetes.

Host: Wow, I didn’t realize it was that much.

Jesse: Yes. About 5% of all diabetics are type 1.

Host: And it is very common to live a normal and happy life with type 1 diabetes and it sounds like with everything that’s available, it’s very manageable.

Jesse: Oh, definitely. I like to think that type 1 diabetes, it doesn’t have to be who you are. You can live a completely normal life. You can play sports. You can go swimming. You can have sleepovers, all the things that children do normally, they can still do all of that with type 1 diabetes. It’s just mainly about the education and the support.

Host: All right Jesse. Well we really appreciate your time today. That’s Jesse Allande, a Registered Nurse, Clinical Manager at Southern Sierra Medical Clinic. Thanks for checking out this episode of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Podcast and you can head to to get connected with Jesse or another provider. If you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social channels and be sure to checkout the entire podcast library of topics of interest to you. Thanks and we’ll see you next time.