Understanding Diabetes in Children: Signs, Types, and Support
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that 1.1 million children and teenagers (under the age of 20) worldwide are coping with type 1 diabetes right now. In addition, type 1 diabetes affects about 132,000 kids and teenagers annually, which is quite alarming.
When you have diabetes, your pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your body doesn’t use it well, which results in high blood sugar levels. While blood glucose is the body’s primary energy source and is obtained from meals, insulin is a hormone that facilitates blood glucose entry into cells and facilitates its conversion to energy.
As a result, when your body does not produce enough insulin or does not utilize it well, glucose builds up in the blood, raising blood sugar levels.
Types Of Diabetes:
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the two varieties.
Your pancreas produces very little to no insulin when you have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition. Your immune system attacks pancreatic cells as a result, halting the hormone’s normal production. Type 1 diabetes is more prevalent in adolescents, teenagers, and young adults, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
On the other hand, Type 2 Diabetes is a long-term medical illness that has an impact on how your body manages and processes blood sugar and glucose. When the body no longer reacts to the insulin generated by the body, the illness sets in.
Certain symptoms that are simple to overlook may accompany both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Here are several warning signs that parents should be aware of.
Extreme Fatigue And Low Energy Levels:
Children may experience fatigue, weakness, or tiredness for a variety of causes. However, if your child is constantly lethargic and exhausted, you should take them to the doctor for a correct diagnosis because this might be an indication of diabetes.
Unexplained Weight Fluctuations:
Children with diabetes may go through unexpected weight changes, particularly weight loss. Their bodies are deprived of the fuel they require because their pancreas either does not make enough insulin or does not utilize it effectively, which impairs the process of turning blood glucose into energy. As a result, it begins to consume fat and muscle for energy, which results in accidental weight loss.
Changes In Sleeping And Eating Patterns:
Diabetes has certain telltale symptoms that are related to food and sleeping patterns. Parents need to keep track of every one of these signs, including excessive thirst, severe hunger, and sleep abnormalities.
Frequent urination is one of the early indicators of diabetes in children. This could be a result of increased thirst and water consumption, which naturally prompts more trips to the loo during the day.
According to experts, diabetes can cause eye issues, particularly fuzzy vision. A youngster may have trouble seeing clearly if their eye lens swells due to high blood sugar levels.
A kid with diabetes may have several gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating, nausea, and heartburn. This is due to the possibility that diabetes would produce gastroparesis, a disorder that impairs digestion.
If your kid has fruity breath, it may indicate a dangerous diabetic complication called ketoacidosis. Type 1 diabetics are more likely to experience diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), however, type 2 diabetics can also experience this illness. If you see the indication, take your child to the doctor right away since it might be life-threatening.
Numbness Or Tingling:
Diabetes can result in diabetic neuropathy, a kind of nerve injury. You could get “pins and needles” in your hands or feet, among other symptoms.
Sores That Heal Slowly:
It may be an indication of type 2 diabetes if your kid develops a sore, wound, or infection that lasts longer than usual. You can hold causes such as elevated blood sugar, diabetic neuropathy, and poor circulation responsible. Keep in mind that diabetes also makes frequent infections more likely.
Darkened Areas Of Skin:
People who have diabetes may experience darkening in the creases of their skin, such as the neck and armpits. This symptom, known as acanthosis nigricans, can have a velvety feel in addition to not always resembling bruises. This results from resistance to insulin generated naturally and is linked to type 2 diabetes.
Children may acquire fruity breath, which is sometimes equated to the scent of a Juicy Fruit gum stick. This potentially fatal symptom, which is often exclusively present in type 1 diabetes, may suggest diabetic ketoacidosis.
Does Diabetes Differ In Children And Adults?
Yes, in large part. Type 2 diabetes accounts for more than 90% of instances of diabetes in adults, whereas type 1 diabetes accounts for more than 90% of cases in children. There are numerous similarities and distinctions between Types 1 and 2, but most significantly, there are significant variances in how the two disorders are handled.
How Does A Child Get Diabetes?
Most kids with diabetes are type 1 diabetics. We frequently lack a concrete explanation for why a particular kid could acquire type 1 diabetes.
We do know that the body creates immunogenic antibody cells and substances that kill the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. The body suffers from an insulin shortage as a result, albeit the cause of this is not yet known.
Type 1 diabetes is now incurable, but research is continually being done to better understand how it develops. This research may one day result in a preventative therapy, an enhanced treatment, or perhaps a cure.
Although type 1 diabetes is not inherently inherited, certain families are more vulnerable than others. In contrast to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes has definite risk factors, including obesity or being overweight, as well as specific ethnic groupings that are more at risk.
My Child Has Diabetes Symptoms— Now What?
Does your child exhibit type 1 or type 2 diabetes symptoms? For a potential diagnosis, Feller advises making an appointment with your pediatrician. “The first thing that I usually say from a nutrition perspective is that if a parent sees any significant change in their child’s behavior, whether it be in terms of their intake (meaning what they’re eating or drinking) or the output (a change in urine or stool, like the amount that they’re going to the toilet), they should absolutely go to the doctor,” says Feller.
To avoid long-term nerve and visual damage, insulin therapy for diabetic children should start as soon as feasible. In addition to damaging blood vessels, high blood sugar has been linked to renal disease, stroke, and heart attack. Be alert, but don’t always be alarmed, advises Feller.
It’s crucial that your child get support from individuals who understand blood sugar monitoring if they have diabetes since they may not be able to do so on their own. To better comprehend their children’s diagnosis, Feller advises parents to put up a multidisciplinary team that includes pediatricians and nutritionists. To discover a solution that works for the family, they really need to collaborate with medical staff. Because, especially with pediatric diabetes, what works for one family may not work for another, explains Feller.
Depending on their demands, children with type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes may adhere to various medication and care regimens.
After seeing increases in urine frequency, Streiff’s child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “Learning to care for a diabetic child is exhausting and overwhelming,” she adds. The following three days were spent teaching us how to count carbohydrates, calculate insulin ratios at various times of the day, prick his finger to monitor blood glucose and administer injections. But Sam is a fighter, and by the time we were discharged from the hospital, he was pricking his own fingers to check his blood sugar! We were fortunate to have excellent physicians and nurses, as well as the fantastic support of other type 1 families in our neighborhood, throughout the first six months, which were a roller coaster of emotions.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice. EuroKids encourages you to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for any health concerns you may have. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.