The TikTok stars raising awareness of chronic conditions in young people

·3 min read
Best friends Beth (left) and Ellen (right), also known as the Diabetic Duo, were both diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 15 years apart. (Credit: Diabetic Duo)
Best friends Beth (left) and Ellen (right), also known as the Diabetic Duo, were both diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 15 years apart. (Credit: Diabetic Duo)

Two TikTok stars are raising awareness of young people with chronic conditions. 

Best friends Ellen Watson and Beth McDaniel from Northern Ireland, also known as the Diabetic Duo, were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 15 years apart. 

Two years ago they began making TikToks about the comments they get from people who aren't aware that young people can suffer from the disease and they are now close to reaching 25,000 followers on the app. 

Ellen, 22, was diagnosed with the auto-immune condition aged six. It occurs when the pancreas attacks and destroys insulin and it effects around 400,000 people in the UK. 

Best friends Beth (left) and Ellen (right), also known as the Diabetic Duo, were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 15 years apart. (Credit: Diabetic Duo)
Beth and Ellen both wear Dexcom G6 sensors which track their glucose levels throughout the day. (Credit: Diabetic Duo)

Since Ellen's mum is a nurse, she was able to spot the symptoms which include extreme thirst, losing lots of weight without trying and needing to urinate frequently. 

Ellen said: "I went from being really bubbly to being really irritable, not very sociable and very thin in a short amount of time."

"My mum gave me a finger prick and realised my sugars were far too high."

From then onwards injecting insulin became a normal part of Ellen's life. 

Read more: How one teenager is using tech to keep herself alive

She met Beth whilst out shopping when she was 17. The two of them bonded over their mutual interests like both wanting to study marketing at Belfast University. 

They soon became close friends so it was a strange coincidence when Beth was diagnosed with Type 1 a few years later. 

Beth, who's 22 now, was 20 years old when she found out she had the illness. 

She was familiar with the symptoms because her younger sister was also diagnosed just nine days before. 

Beth said: "It was really freaky because there's no family history or anything and we didn't really know a whole lot about it, apart from through Ellen. 

"Me and Ellen were obviously really freaked out that we both had it because there's not a lot of people in our area, or around our age level, with Type 1."

Read more: Lack of diabetes care due to COVID could be a healthcare time-bomb

The pair never planned on using TikTok to raise awareness of their condition. But, one day when they were filming themselves getting ready for a night out, they happened to capture one of their glucose monitors in the background. 

Shortly afterwards, the video went viral. 

Ellen said: "It opened up a conversation for people who had no idea what [the glucose monitor] was.

"And there were lots of comments from diabetics who were like "oh my goodness, I wear that too!"

They've been posting videos ever since. 

Beth added: "We always try to add a funny twist because often the stuff you see about diabetes is quite serious, which is understandable of course, but we like to teach people about it in a way that's fun.

"And just like everyone else on TikTok, people with diabetes want to see stuff which they can relate to."

For Diabetes Awareness Month, the duo have partnered up with Dexcom, a company which makes continuous glucose monitors.

These allow diabetics to check their glucose levels throughout the day, enabling them to keep their levels within a healthy range which can prevent long-term complications. 

Their campaign #See Diabetes is encouraging people living with the disease, or those who have a loved one with it, to share their experiences on social media. 

Dexcom said: "We want to help people with diabetes feel seen and heard and raise awareness of the importance of access to diabetes care.

"Securing access to care often first requires increased visibility of the issue."

Watch: Strictly's Nadia Wadia on her son's battle with Type 1 diabetes

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting