NORTH AURORA – Ten-year-old Emily Laughead knows she’ll have more than a tummy ache if she eats too much leftover Halloween candy.
“I could go into a coma,” said the Schneider Elementary School fifth-grader.
Emily has Type 1 diabetes, which means that her body does not produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of blood sugar (also called glucose) in your body.
There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes. Emily must use an insulin pump that passes insulin into her body.
“Type 1 diabetes is physically, emotionally and financially devastating,” said Emily’s mother, Amy Laughead.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million people nationwide – 7.8 percent of the population – have diabetes.
This month, as American Diabetes Month, the association tries to convey the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of proper diabetes control.
Emily is trying to spread that message in her own way. She has a Web page, www.EmilysHope.org, that is geared toward educating others about juvenile diabetes.
For example, a cartoon that Emily created shows her testing her blood sugar.
Her family has a garage sale every year to raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes and raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Emily’s medical fund.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. People who are overweight are at a greater risk for developing diabetes.
Emily wants other children to know how important it is watch what they eat and to exercise.
“I don’t want them getting Type 2 diabetes,” she said.
Delnor Hospital’s Center for Diabetes Management provides information and technology to those with diabetes.
“We provide diabetes training to patients we work with, but also everybody in the community,” said Jeane Schoen, the center’s coordinator.
Patients learn how to use a blood sugar meter so they can check their blood sugar at home.
“We work with people to teach them to make healthy food choices,” Schoen said. “They are taught to go to sugar-free drinks rather than drink fruit juice or soda pop, and to eat smaller meals more often. That can help keep their blood sugars on target.”
The demand for the center’s service continues to increase.
“We do see volumes go up every year,” Schoen said. “When I started with Delnor 10 years ago, we saw 400 to 500 people a year. Last year, we saw about 750 people. We are much busier than we were in the beginning.”