Living With Juvenile Diabetes

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Doctors say the incidence of diabetes is on the rise, particularly in young patients.

16-year-old Rory Jordan from Moscow only remembers bits and pieces of being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  She was just six years old at the time.

"I lost a lot of weight.  Sleeping all the time too, and I was thirsty.  I was drinking a lot," she said.

Her diabetes is in check now.  But the staff here at this Geisinger office in Mountain Top knows diabetes is more common than ever, especially in the younger population.

"When I started my fellowship, we had one or two patients that were less than 2 years old.  Now we have entire days we call 2-year old day," said Dr. Naghma Aijaz.  She's a pediatric endocrinologist who explained the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 is an auto-immune disorder commonly known as juvenile diabetes, when the body can't produce the insulin it needs.  Type 2, sometimes called adult-onset, is often linked to obesity or lifestyle.  But the result is the same: a glucose imbalance that can be dangerous if left unchecked.

"A lot of our newly diagnosed patients end up in the pediatric ICU because they're just not making insulin, their parents think they have the flu and it goes on and on and becomes an emergent situation," said Christine Granahan.

Granahan is a Certified Diabetes Educator on staff at Geisinger.  She says to look out for these signs of diabetes in your children: being very tired, increased urination, weight loss and/or extreme thirst.

"But it's ok!" she noted.   "They do really well.  If they're educated, kids do really really well."

Just like Rory, who plays basketball and softball at North Pocono High School and enjoys a normal life with her friends.

"It's scary at first, but you adapt to it.  And it gets easier," she said.