What Do Parents Need To Know About Juvenile Diabetes

Dr Sameer S Rao, Consultant Neonatologist & Paediatrician, Motherhood Hospitals, Banashankari, Bangalore

Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in children and adolescents. It is also known as juvenile diabetes. The pancreas of people with type 1 diabetes does not make enough insulin. Insulin is a chemical that aids in the transport of glucose or sugar present in blood into cells to provide energy. Too much sugar remains in the blood without insulin.

Younger people are now developing type 2 diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes was the previous name for type 2 diabetes. However, as obesity rates rise, it is becoming more common in children and teenagers. The body does not produce or use insulin properly in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Blood sugar cannot enter cells to be used for energy if insulin is not present. Instead, it accumulates in the bloodstream. However, there is no conclusive research on what causes Type 1 diabetes. As a result, they are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the rise in Type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

  • Excessively thirsty
  • Frequently going to the toilet
  • Loss of weight
  • Feeling Tired more often
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomit
  • Breathing difficulties or fast breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

When the blood sugar is high, it will be excreted through urine which in turn leads to frequent urination and associated dehydration. As cells are starved with lack of glucose children tend to eat a lot; but due to lack of insulin none of this reaches the cells and hence the cycle continues. Lack of calories and dehydration leads on to weight loss and extreme fatigue.

How to diagnose Type 1 Diabetes?

By testing blood samples for glucose, doctors can determine whether a person has diabetes. When high blood sugar levels indicate that a child has diabetes, other blood and urine tests are usually performed to help doctors determine whether the child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, as management and treatment of diabetes differ depending on the type.

Type 1 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed after a child develops ketoacidosis, which occurs when the body does not have enough insulin. Ketoacidosis can cause diabetic coma, kidney problems, brain swelling, growth retardation, and even death.

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

Doctors and researchers are working to create new tools and treatments to assist children in dealing with the unique challenges of diabetes. Some children and adolescents are already using devices that make blood glucose testing and insulin injections more convenient, painless, and effective.

One of them is the insulin pump, a mechanical device that can  continuously deliver insulin depending on the preset boluses based on sugar levels it can automatically calculate the insulin dose required and deliver it accordingly.

Continuous Glucose monitors(CGM), on the other hand, are small, wearable devices that measure glucose every five to 15 minutes day and night. It eliminates the need for frequent finger pokes.

Diabetes treatment options are being researched by doctors and scientists. This entails implanting insulin-producing cells into diabetics. Researchers are also looking into ways to prevent diabetes from occurring in the first place. For example, researchers are looking into whether diabetes can be avoided in people who have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

Things that parents need to consider about juvenile diabetes

Parents can help their children live happier, healthier lives by encouraging them constantly, learning as much as they can about diabetes, and ensuring that their children eat well, exercise regularly, and maintain blood sugar control daily.

Diabetes in children and adolescents necessitates the monitoring and control of glucose levels. They must do the following:

  • Test blood sugar levels several times per day with a small blood sample, regulate insulin injections themselves, have an adult administer injections, or use an insulin pump.
  • Have a well-balanced, healthy diet, paying close attention to the amount of sugar and starch in their food as well as the timing of their meals.
  • Exercise regularly to help control blood sugar levels and help avoid some long-term health problems that diabetes can cause, such as heart disease
  • Work closely with your doctors and diabetes medical team to control diabetes as well as possible.
  • Pay close attention to the signs and complications of diabetes and other diabetes-related health problems
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