DR. WALLACE: I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 12 years old, so four and a half years ago. I actually have type 1 diabetes and have been quite concerned about it since I found out I had the disease. I enjoy doing research on the internet and I found out that this disease affects millions of Americans. I have an autoimmune disease where my body starts attacking the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin enables glucose to enter our body cells, which is converted into energy to support the functioning of our body. Now that I’m 16 I can honestly say that I know a lot about my body and its processes because I am curious and regularly study diabetes and current treatments.
My type 1 diabetes was recognized early, but it could have been fatal as the body ultimately uses the fat that is stored for energy and you can starve to death. I just want to make sure that everyone in my situation is diagnosed early so they don’t really get sick without knowing the potential dangers.
I need to check my blood sugar levels several times a day. And when I don’t make enough insulin in my body, I have to inject or use the pump to make sure my blood sugar levels are correct. I understand that I will have to do this for the rest of my life, so I have already adjusted my mentality to face this challenge. I don’t wish my condition to any other teenager, but for the unfortunate ones who have similar problems, I hope they can be diagnosed early and take the necessary steps to stay healthy. – Stay strong, via email
STAYING STRONG: Thank you for your very inspiring letter. You are a young man who is wise beyond his years. It’s great that you face your challenge with so much personal strength.
It is extremely important that everyone at any age be diagnosed as soon as symptoms appear. The basic symptoms of type 1 diabetes are frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, excessive hunger and thirst, and dramatic weight loss in a short period of time. If you have any of these symptoms it is very important that your family doctor or local doctor diagnose you. The good news is that treatments in the world of medicine and with your particular ailment are constantly evolving and evolving.
DR. WALLACE: I love spicy food, just like my father. He can handle some really hot, flavorful foods. We love Mexican food, Indian food, Thai food and so on. The hotter the better. My mother doesn’t eat anything spicy except mild salsa. If a salsa is marked as “medium” it won’t touch it!
I wonder if there’s a gene my dad passed on to me because I like to eat spicy foods, but my brothers and mom just won’t touch them. – Spicy Sister, via email
SPICY SISTER: You were not born with a particular flavor-loving gene, nor did you inherit it from your father. It is likely that you began to enjoy the taste after repeated contact with spicy foods or spices.
For example, having a really hot sauce can make your body react like you’re in pain. This can cause your brain to become temporarily flooded with endorphins, which can give you some level of short-term happiness. This type of chemical reaction can improve some people’s mood and in some cases even lower their depression. So please enjoy all kinds of foods that your stomach can tolerate.