Journey to type 1 diabetes diagnosis, helping to reduce the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis

Journey to type 1 diabetes diagnosis, helping to reduce the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis


(BPT) - Sponsored by Sanofi

At just 25 years old, Amy Hsieh began experiencing a series of health-related symptoms that ultimately changed her life. Hsieh explained: “I was extremely thirsty, lost a lot of weight, and felt like I had to go to the bathroom constantly. This actually went on for over a year. At the time, I had no idea that these were very typical symptoms of type 1 diabetes — and so I overlooked them. I wish I hadn’t.”

In the coming weeks, Hsieh’s symptoms grew increasingly severe. While visiting family in Taiwan, she went into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is a serious complication of type 1 diabetes that can sometimes be life-threatening. “I was rushed to the hospital, where I was put into the intensive care unit (ICU) for three days. And then after I got out of the ICU, I had to stay in the hospital for over a week while I recovered. It was an incredibly scary experience, and I was shocked to learn I had type 1 diabetes, as was my family, because no one else has it.”

Hsieh is not alone in her experience of going through DKA. Far too often, DKA is how people realize they have type 1 diabetes, with as many as 40% of DKA cases stemming from those who are newly diagnosed. That said, there is no need to wait until you are seriously ill to find out if you might be at risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Screening can help identify the early stages of type 1 diabetes before symptoms arise. includes information about early screening for type 1 diabetes, so people of all ages can get information in advance about their risk of developing type 1 diabetes and can better prepare for the future — and even potentially reduce the risk of DKA.

Understanding DKA

DKA typically develops when you don’t have enough insulin in your system to allow blood sugar into your cells. As a result, your liver breaks down fat for fuel, a process that produces acids called ketones. When too many ketones are produced too fast, they can build up to dangerous levels in your body, which can in turn have other negative effects on your health.

Much like Hsieh’s experience, where she was experiencing symptoms for over a year, type 1 diabetes develops slowly over time in the body. There are three stages of the disease. In the earlier stages, a person does not show any noticeable symptoms. By the time someone might be at risk of going through DKA, they are in the later stage of type 1 diabetes as symptoms begin to become more pronounced. Common symptoms of DKA include excessive thirst and urination — but, if left untreated, critical symptoms can appear quickly.

“Had I known earlier that I would develop type 1 diabetes, I would have taken steps — such as having a care team in place, monitoring my blood sugar levels, and more — to reduce my risk of DKA,” Hsieh explains. “My story underscores why it’s so important to spread awareness of type 1 diabetes — what it is, how it develops, and, most importantly, how it is possible to detect it in advance through screening. Given my history, it’s no surprise that I’m a big advocate for all people to get screened, no matter your age or if you have a family history of the disease.”

Why screening matters

When it comes to type 1 diabetes and your health in general, knowledge is power. Just consider that early screening may help people potentially reduce their risk of going through DKA at initial diagnosis of T1D by up to 50%. “Prior to diagnosis, I lived a very healthy lifestyle, so I didn’t even question my symptoms when they arose,” Hsieh notes. “If I had been screened, I might not have been blindsided by my diagnosis and I could have spent that valuable time in Taiwan with my family, rather than being in the hospital. I want others to know screening is an option, so they can possibly reduce their own risk of experiencing the same thing I went through.”

You can check out type 1 diabetes screening options for yourself and your loved ones at and by talking to your doctor.

Sanofi does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment — information is provided for educational purposes only. Your doctor is the best source of health information. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your health or treatment.

Amy Hsieh is a paid spokesperson for Sanofi.

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