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Understanding Diabetes 2020 Q4

Dealing with type 1 diabetes in your younger years

Image: DigiBete


13 year old with type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that affects around 30,000 young people in the UK and is lifelong.

Benji was diagnosed when he was 9 years old. He is now 13 and is keen to inspire other young people living with the challenges of type 1 diabetes.

“Initially the GP mis-diagnosed me with depression. I’d been going to the doctors a lot because I was wetting the bed so much and I was losing weight. When I was actually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I was so poorly that the ICU had to come down to me as I was going into organ failure,” says Benji

About 25% of children and young people diagnosed in the UK are admitted to hospital with life threatening Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). This could be avoided if the signs of type 1 diabetes were recognised earlier.

Working hard to improve self-management

Benji works hard to manage his diabetes and to keep his blood glucose levels in a safe range. Too low, and he could fall into a nasty hypo and too high, he could become very ill with hyperglycaemia and both are life threatening.

People need to know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes because they are two very different conditions.

Benji monitors his blood glucose levels using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) 24/7. “I use an insulin pod to deliver insulin, but I need to be careful in case it gets knocked off when I’m doing sports or swimming. I also use a finger pricker and a ketone meter. My CGM uses bluetooth and sends my levels to my phone and updates me every 5 minutes so I can see what my blood glucose levels are.  My Mum can also see my levels on her phone”.

Spreading awareness online to educate

Like many young people living with type 1 diabetes, it’s been a really challenging journey so far for Benji. But he also says he has found strength in his situation.

Benji reflects “I have a really great friend called Byron who features in my awareness video for World Diabetes Day and his Mum has type 1 too, so he knows how to help me”.

Click here to watch Benji and Byron’s World Diabetes Day video

He has just finished shooting a music video for World Diabetes Day for, a not-for-profit organisation, supporting patients and their families by extending the clinical support through an accessible video platform and app. All DigiBete resources are clinically approved by Leeds Children’s Hospital and funded by NHSE Diabetes Programme. 

One real advantage is that Benji feels he “can open up and talk to anyone in my diabetes clinic”. For inspiration, Benji follows Daniel Newman‘s type 1 podcast. “He talks about the things that I’m going through and I feel part of the conversation”.

Finally, we asked Benji what he wished more people knew about diabetes and he said: “people need to know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes because they are two very different conditions”.

For more information on the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes visit:

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