Juvenile Diabetes or Type 1 diabetes
Juvenile Diabetes or Type 1 Diabetes usually strikes during childhood or adolescence. It breaks my heart to think that these children must live with it all their lives besides being insulin dependent, always worrying about the complications of diabetes.
We have a neighbor who has two daughters and both have juvenile diabetes. We’ve known them for over 15 years now – and I remember, each time there was a kids’ birthday party – while all the other kids feasted on the birthday cake and other goodies, these two little girls would sit by themselves and have nothing. Sometimes they would carry a couple of wheat biscuits. Today, both are smart young ladies who manage their condition well with diet, activity and medication.
The thing about managing juvenile diabetes is – it requires a lot of discipline, following a tough routine and this is hard for children. As if the physical complications aren’t enough, there are emotional upsets as these children feel different from their peers. What is worse is the moment of diagnosis – scary for both parent and child. It involves a lifestyle change for the entire family. Approaching the situation with positivity and love is the best way, as children are influenced by their parents’ reactions.
The good news is, it is possible to lead an almost normal and happy life with Type 1 diabetes by understanding the condition and learning how to cope with the change and making the necessary changes.
Type 1 diabetes is an immune disorder where insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body. When this happens, the body can no longer produce insulin causing the glucose to remain in the blood and resulting in serious problems. People with type 1 diabetes are insulin-dependent to survive.
Recognizing the symptoms of juvenile diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is the no.1 cause for diabetes in children. The following symptoms show up quickly
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Unusual breath odor that seems fruity or sweet
- Sugar in urine
- Changes in vision – sometimes blurred
- Constant hunger
- Rapid weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
With these, there are long term risks of juvenile diabetes. These are:
Related to the eyes – this is a progressive disease that destroys the blood vessels around the retina and may lead to blindness.
Heart disease is a common complication of type 1 diabetes and manifests itself as a hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Naturally this can be fatal.
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
When the blood sugar levels become very low, it can induce a diabetic coma. This can be avoided by constant blood sugar monitoring, following the recommended diet and taking medications, that may include insulin, on time.
Diabetes can damage the kidneys and cause end stage renal disease resulting in reduced kidney function and eventually kidney failure.
Also called autonomic neuropathy, this shows up as a loss of feeling or pain in the legs, feet, hands and arms. Other symptoms are digestive problems, diarrhea, rapid pulse and low blood pressure.
Helping children manage type 1 diabetes
The first step in helping children manage juvenile diabetes is having a support team in place so they can understand their special needs, which include medication, nutrition and behavioral needs. A customized diabetes management plan is the best way. This involves:
- Taking the medication as prescribed, at the right time. Balancing the medication with the right diet and nutrition along with adequate physical activity, especially when the child is away at school or elsewhere and not under the parents’ supervision. Children must be prepared and aware, as must be the adults who look after them.
- Being aware of what foods can cause high blood sugar. The entire family must learn that carbohydrates such as breads, pasta, and rice, affect type 1 diabetes. Children must also be taught portion sizes and calorie counting, and know how to choose healthy foods. They must learn why juices and cola drinks must be avoided. If they need to take insulin regularly, encouragement and constant support is the best way to keep them happy.
- Monitoring blood glucose levels regularly. Children must be aware of the acceptable blood glucose range and how to check it, using a blood glucose meter. They must be encouraged to keep a log of their insulin and blood sugar levels at each test. This will help make changes as necessary.
- Encouraging physical activity. Weight management is a critical aspect of managing type 1 diabetes and children must get at least an hour’s physical activity every day.
Type 1 diabetes is tough to manage both for the parent as well as the child. The best way to do it is staying informed and maintaining a positive attitude and being encouraging. Support is everything!
Day 10 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
Living with type 2 diabetes.
J is for Juvenile Diabetes or Type 1 diabetes