Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

JUVENILE DIABETES: Learn the Facts

Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, which is the main type of sugar in the blood. Glucose comes from the foods we eat and is the major source of energy needed to fuel the body’s function. In type 1 diabetes (which used to be called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes), the pancreas can’t make insulin. In this disease, the beta cells of the body which produce glucose are destroyed by the body’s own immune system, just like any other auto-immune condition. It is unknown what first starts this cascade of immune events, but evidence suggests that both a genetic predisposition and environmental factors, such as a viral infection, are involved. The body gets glucose from the food and doesn’t have insulin to use it, as a result the sugar levels go very high in the blood. To fix this problem someone with type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin at regular intervals through insulin shots.

As compared to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes affects adults and usually results from a sedentary lifestyle. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes insulin, but the insulin doesn’t work in the body like it should and blood sugar levels get too high.

Signs and symptoms of juvenile diabetes usually develop quickly, over a period of days to weeks, informs Dr Chhabra. The symptoms commonly noticed include increased thirst, frequent urination and excessive eating, visual disturbances, such as blurred vision. Also, when a child is losing weight despite eating excessively and reporting fatigue, irritation, altered breathing suspect diabetes, warns Dr Chhabra. Young girls may get fungal infection in their genitals.

If your child is diagnosed with type I diabetes, get him screened for following tests:

  • Coeliac disease at diagnosis
  • and at least every 3 years thereafter
  • Thyroid disease at diagnosis and annually thereafter
  • Retinopathy annually from the age of 12 years (eye examination)
  • Microalbuminuria annually from the age of 12 years (urine examination)
  • Blood pressure annually from the age of 12 years.

Teach your child to live well with diabetes
Kids who have type 1 diabetes have to pay a little more attention to what they’re eating and doing than kids without diabetes. They need to:

  1. Eliminate fatty foods like white bread, pasta and rice and substitute these with interesting whole grains.
  2. Take short and frequent meals instead of huge meals at larger intervals. Aim to curb overeating at any meal which can cause high sugar levels.
  3. Go for regular exercise which are not very strenuous like brisk walks yoga for body toning. .
  4. Take regular and undisturbed sleep to keep his mind stress free and provide enough relaxation to his body. As stress is considered one of the major reasons for feeling hypoglycemic and drained out of energy.
  5. Check their blood sugar levels often
  6. Give themselves insulin shots, have someone help give them shots. Children with insulin-dependent diabetes will get three to four insulin shots in a day to keep their blood sugar at optimum level.
  7. Follow a healthy eating plan so they can keep blood sugar levels under control and grow normally
  8. Go for regular health checks with doctors and other people so they can stay healthy and get treatment for any diabetes problems

Diabetes can affect the child’s emotions both directly and indirectly, so certain lifestyle changes must be followed to avoid behavioural changes, such as irritability.

Priya Singh

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Category: Diabetes
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