Type 2 diabetes is one of the many lifestyle diseases that are common. However, type 1 diabetes is not. But in recent times the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is on the rise around the world. We regularly hear people talk about it on the news, in movies, and even on talk shows.
It’s natural to be a concerned parent who wants to learn everything there is to know about diabetes in children. If you’re a parent who thinks that their child might be at risk of type 1 diabetes, this blog is dedicated to you.
Let’s take a look at an overview of type 1 diabetes before we get into the signs, symptoms of undiagnosed and its management methods.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes mellitus, often known as juvenile diabetes, is a long-term (chronic) condition that can develop at any age. It is a disorder that causes the body to stop producing a vital hormone called insulin that is needed for survival. Since your child needs insulin to survive, the missing insulin must be restored by injections or an insulin pump.
Is your child in danger of developing type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes has no recognized cause and not everyone can get it. It all starts with a hereditary predisposition to the disease, which means that chromosomes, the genetic material-containing components of each cell, are involved. If your child carries the genetic material associated with type 1 diabetes, something in the environment (a trigger) — most likely a viral infection such as the common cold or flu— can cause the disease to manifest.
When the body is infected with a virus, it produces antibodies (protective proteins that try to destroy the virus). When the body attacks the virus, it also destroys the cells that produce insulin because they share antigens with the virus (an autoimmune response), resulting in type 1 diabetes.
Some of the risk factors of inheriting this gene include:
- Relatives with this condition
- Caucasian ethnicity
- Being a native of either Finland or Sardinia
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children
The absence of insulin is the root of all type 1 diabetes symptoms. Insulin normally functions as a gatekeeper, allowing glucose derived from carbs in your food to enter your cells by opening your cells. Once let inside, glucose can be used as fuel by your cells.
If there isn’t enough insulin to open the gate and let the glucose into the cell, it becomes stranded in your bloodstream, causing your blood sugar to rise. From here the symptoms start to show one by one.
The symptoms of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes in children can mimic those of the common flu. However, each child’s symptoms may manifest in a unique way. Some of the most common symptoms observed are as follows:
- Increased urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unintentional weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Belly (abdominal) pain
- Fruity breath and fast breathing
- Yeast infection in girls
- Irritability and mood swings
If your child exhibits two or more of these symptoms, make an appointment with their healthcare professional as soon as possible to get a diagnosis.
Treatment for type 1 diabetes in children
When a child is diagnosed with a rare condition like type 1 diabetes, any parent’s first thought would be “is type 1 diabetes curable”. Although incredible advances in blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery have been made, a cure for type 1 diabetes has yet to be discovered. Even though there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, it can be effectively managed to maintain a high quality of life.
To keep blood glucose levels within normal ranges, children with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections. Insulin can be delivered via injection or through an insulin pump. Your pediatrician will show you how to give insulin to your child using either approach.
Besides daily injections, the treatment plan also includes:
- Managing blood glucose levels by eating the right foods
- Exercise to reduce blood sugar levels
- Regularly checks on blood-glucose levels through blood testing
- Regularly checks on ketone levels through urine tests
* For children with type 1 diabetes, low blood sugar can be fatal. If your child passes out or has seizures, always contact 108 and seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
It is quite challenging to take care of an adult family member who has diabetes. However, dependence and independence issues will be magnified if the diabetic is a child or a teenager. As a parent, it is understandable that you would go to astonishing lengths to make life as good as possible for your child, this is not just reserved to type 1 diabetes in children. However, you don’t have to do it all alone, learn more about healthy lifestyles and how you can incorporate them into your life to avoid preventable health conditions.