Award-winning singer, songwriter and actor Usher felt “blindsided” when he discovered his son had type 1 diabetes. Now, he’s urging others to get tested early for the chronic autoimmune disease, according to U.S. News and World Report.


“Even though I don’t live with diabetes, I do live with diabetes because there is not a waking moment in a day that I am not thinking about my child and making certain that they are OK, and that they are healthy, and that their choices and decisions are going to help them to have a very healthy life,” Usher told U.S. News.


Unlike type 2 diabetes, which often starts in adulthood, type 1 diabetes typically develops during childhood but can happen at any age. The condition limits insulin production, which causes high blood sugar levels. Screening can help identify the disease before symptoms are noticeable.


As a spokesman for the 1 Pledge Campaign, an initiative that seeks to raise awareness about early type 1 diabetes testing, Usher encourages others to take advantage of early antibody testing.


A survey found that only 14% of adult respondents with type 1 diabetes took an autoantibody test before their diagnosis, and 68% of adults with the condition regretted not taking the test, according to U.S. News.


The 1 Pledge Campaign offers resources including a screening guide and doctor discussion guide to help support a useful conversation with health care professionals. It also offers facts about diabetes. For example, a person with just one family member with the condition has a 15-fold risk of developing type 1 diabetes compared with an individual with no such family history.


“Sometimes being able to know that there are other people who are going through what you’re going through—if I’m able to share that and without shame, then hopefully it’ll make you feel more comfortable to let you know that you’re not alone, and let you know that there is an entire host of people who are trying to help and support you,” Usher told U.S. News.


To learn more, click #Diabetes or read Real Health’s Basics on Diabetes. It reads in part:


What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the cells are unable to use it. Insulin is a hormone made by cells in the pancreas that is used to process glucose (a form of sugar) for energy. Without sufficient insulin, the body is unable to properly use and store glucose, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.

What are the risk factors for diabetes?
The main risk factor for type 1 diabetes is having family members who have the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, anyone whose mother, father, sister or brother had type 1 diabetes should get screened for the disease. In addition, you’re at risk for type 1 diabetes if you have a history of injury or disease involving the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes may develop after a bacterial or viral infection.


What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 are generally similar, but some people with type 2 diabetes display milder signs that may go unnoticed. Diabetes may be preceded by mild symptoms and lab test abnormalities known as prediabetes.


Your doctor can test you for diabetes by measuring blood glucose. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in people with overweight or obesity starting at age 35.


Typically, the symptoms of diabetes include:


  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Weight gain or unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue, or feelings of tiredness or listlessness
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision. 

Click here for full list of symptoms.