Monday, January 14, 2013

Signs of Juvenile Diabetes

I'm sure you've heard the word 'diabetes' quite a bit lately. Mostly, it is mentioned as a complication of obesity, which is a very valid concern in this country. This form of diabetes is called Type 2 and, if there's a Type 2, there has to be a Type 1. Since we don't hear much about Type 1, you might wonder what it is. What is it, how is it different from Type 2, and how can it be managed?

Type 1 diabetes is also known as 'juvenile diabetes' or 'insulin-dependent diabetes'. Diabetes is described as an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas (a digestive organ located behind the stomach) that produce insulin, the chemical that processes an essential sugar known as glucose. This causes glucose levels to build up in the blood, which can cause significant and long-term damage to various organs. It tends to start in children or young adults, thus the 'juvenile' tag. It's different from Type 2 diabetes (a much more common form) because Type 2 is a matter of the body not making enough insulin or not processing it properly; with Type 1, the body doesn't make insulin at all. Insulin is absolutely essential to proper digestion and nutrition, so this must be taken very seriously and treated properly. Since the body does not make insulin, Type 1 diabetics have to take insulin in order to stay alive. This tends to be in the form of injections or a pump, as opposed to being able to manage it with pills or simply changing the diet.

Some signs of Type 1 diabetes are:
  • increased hunger and thirst
  • increased urination
  • bedwetting (when this wasn't a problem before)
  • sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • confusion (when this wasn't a problem before)
  • breath having a 'fruity' smell
  • fatigue and other flu-like symptoms.

If you see these symptoms in your child, see the doctor.

If your child does indeed have Type 1 diabetes, the treatment regimen is pretty structured. She'll have to learn how to take her blood sugar to make sure the levels are matching up with the doses of insulin. She'll need to be taught how to give herself the insulin, but the doctor can show you how to do these things. The doctor will tell you what sorts of dietary changes will be needed, although they aren't always as drastic as some make them out to be. It's mostly a matter of having balanced nutrition and spreading carbohydrates throughout the day, which is a good idea anyway. If nothing else, it will be a good way to get everyone else in the family to eat properly out of support for your child!

She'll also have to do regular physical activity which, again, is a good idea anyway. If she doesn't like to play outside or the school does not have recess, you can invest in some of the video games that 'make you the controller'. I have a Playstation Move, which has turned out to be well worth the price. Trust me, the sports and dance games your kids probably already like make a very good workout!

I'm definitely not an expert, but Type 1 diabetes can be managed and your child can live a full and reasonably-normal life. If you want to find more information, and are very good sources. Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. After reading this article, these symptoms startle me. My son has most all of them. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.