Teenage Type 1 Diabetic Successfully Manages his Condition
After a day of feeling like he was coming down with the flu, 12-year-old Naples resident Preston Olinger began to go downhill. As the evening wore on, his parents became concerned. When his breathing became labored and he passed out, they called an ambulance.
Preston had gone into a diabetic coma. I just wanted to sleep it off, Preston says of his condition. I didn t know something was really wrong.
Without a family history of type 1 diabetes, Preston s family did not suspect that he had developed the life-altering condition. When he was admitted to the hospital, his glucose levels were extraordinarily high and physicians warned his family that he might not recover.
More than three years later, Preston, 15, is a high school student who participates in track and cross country, is a member of extracurricular clubs and is on the honor roll. With the help of specialist physicians, including pediatric endocrinologist, Cayce Jehaimi, M.D., Preston learned to monitor his glucose levels and now injects insulin as many as five times each day.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes, like the type Preston developed, remains unknown, Dr. Jehaimi says. However, based on numerous medical studies, environmental and infectious causes can play a key role in the development of the disease. It is an autoimmune disease in which a person s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling sugar levels, among many other functions.
Diabetes occurs when the body s own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. Its onset has nothing to do with consuming lots of sugar or living a sedentary lifestyle, although staying fit can ward off obesity which can act as an additional trigger to the development of the disease.
Preston was active before his diagnosis and has not had to give up any sports because of his diabetes. I carry Skittles with me so if my blood sugar gets low, I can eat a few of those, he says.
While there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, patients can successfully manage their health, through daily glucose checks and routine medical appointments.
Intense research is under way to find a cure, with trials being conducted on several fronts (stem cell, transplant, artificial pancreas, immune therapy), Dr. Jehaimi says. In the meantime, Preston, and thousands of other children, will continue making their best efforts to control their glucose levels via insulin by injection or insulin pump. It is important to emphasize that individuals with type 1 diabetes must and should maintain an active lifestyle, all social engagements, hobbies and be optimistic, given that psychological stress alone can pose a real hindrance toward optimum diabetes control. Preston exemplifies this aspect of living with diabetes and we commend him (and others) for his courage, perseverance and level of commitment.
Teen Talking Type 1 Diabetes in Stride
Cayce Jehaimi, M.D.
Golisano Children s Hospital of Southwest Florida
15901 Bass Road, Suite 102
Fort Myers, FL 33908
*An outpatient department of Lee Memorial Hospital