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Bringing attention to diabetes

For most people, World Diabetes Day passed on Wednesday with not much more than a bat of the eye. It was a normal Wednesday.

But millions of people around the world have diabetes, and it’s a life-threatening illness that is growing, so it is appropriate for folks to sit up and pay attention.

One preschool class in Suffolk celebrated with their classmate, Ellie, a 4-year-old who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes less than three months ago. Her teachers and classmates hung blue decorations, made blue hearts for Ellie with encouraging messages and read a book about a young girl diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Ellie got to answer questions from her classmates about her disease and showed off her teddy bear with markings to signify where diabetics test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin shots.

Brave children like Ellie are a small portion of diabetes, as Type 1 diabetes — formerly misnamed “juvenile diabetes” — can be diagnosed at any age and Type 2 diabetes usually develops later in life. But Ellie seems to be managing her disease just fine so far.

World Diabetes Day, and events where diabetics can share their stories, are meant to bring more attention to the disease and spread awareness of the warning signs, so that more people can be diagnosed early and avoid complications.

The tell-tale signs include thirst and frequent urination, as well as extreme hunger, fatigue, blurry vision and weight loss.

Ellie bravely telling her story could save a life one day — quite an impact for a 4-year-old. We appreciate he and her parents speaking up and her teachers and classmates for their willingness to pay attention.

For more information about diabetes, visit www.worlddiabetesday.org. And talk to your doctor right away if you suspect you may have diabetes or are at risk for it.