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What if it's Not the Flu? How to Recognize Signs of Type 1 Diabetes

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As anyone living with type 1 diabetes can tell you, the condition is not caused by sugar, poor diet, or lack of exercise. It's a common misconception that can be very dangerous to those without a diagnosis, particularly during flu season. Many of the early signs of type 1 diabetes appear flu-like, and are dismissed without a second thought. However, without treatment, a patient in this situation is in very real danger.

What does the flu feel like to you? Perhaps you get sick to your stomach, feel overly fatigued, or are very dehydrated. Breathing might be difficult, and over time, you could lose a significant and unhealthy amount of weight with the flu. It may surprise you to learn that these, among others, are all signs for diabetic ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis is a complication of diabetes in which the body does not produce enough insulin to break down blood sugar, and resorts to using fat as fuel, resorting in an excess of blood acids called ketones. The ketones get released in urine, causing frequent urination, and in respiration, causing fruity smelling breath. Left untreated, these acids and extremely high blood sugar can cause the symptoms that look like flu: aches, fatigue, confusion, dehydration, and so on.

The best way to check for the condition is to check your blood sugar, or use a urine ketone testing kit. Ketoacidosis is more common in diabetics, so it's worth a trip to the doctor if you suspect that your flu isn't really the flu.

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