The Symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes – Do You Know What They Are?
by: Andrew Bicknell
Juvenile Diabetes, also known as type 1 diabetes, is a disease that affects nearly 210,000 children and young adults under the age of 20 with approximately 15,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Diabetes in children commonly occurs during puberty between the ages of 10 to 12 in girls and 12 to 14 in boys and it is also important to note that children whose parents or other siblings have diabetes are at a greater risk of developing the disease themselves.
The sudden onset of juvenile diabetes is caused by the inability of the pancreas to manufacture insulin. It is thought that genetic predisposition and autoimmune dysfunction destroy the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, rendering them unable to produce insulin, which is needed to control blood sugar levels.
Many times the parents are caught unaware and off guard that their child has diabetes. They have many questions asking how this could happen or what they could have done to prevent it. Unfortunately there is no known way to prevent the onset of juvenile diabetes but if the parent is able to catch the tale-tell symptoms early and their child is positively diagnosed there is less chance of long term complications.
The symptoms of juvenile diabetes are much the same as for adults but children may not recognize that something is wrong because they can be subtle. The early warning signs that parents should be on the lookout for include.
1. Frequent bathroom trips – High blood sugar increases the amount of blood that is filtered through the kidneys, leading to an increase in urinary output.
2. Being thirsty all the time – Dehydration caused by the high urine output leads to an increased thirst.
3. Increased hunger and eating – The lack of insulin keeps the sugar in the blood, starving the cells for the energy they need to function. Because of this perceived energy deficit the body responds with hunger pains.
4. Weight loss – Despite the fact that the child is eating more the body will start to break down it own muscle and fat stores to make up for the perceived loss of energy sources, namely blood glucose.
5. Fatigue – The inability of glucose to cross from the blood stream into the cells causes a loss of energy leading to chronic fatigue. The irregularity in protein and fat metabolism can also lead to fatigue.
6. Increased irritability and depression.
7. Vision problems – High blood glucose levels cause an increase in blood volume which can cause the lens of the eye to swell.
These symptoms can occur alone but because diabetes is a disease that affects entire bodily functions there is a good chance that these symptoms will start slowly but will occur as a group. If one is noticeable it is a good idea to ask your child if they are experiencing any of the other known signs.
The sooner the symptoms of juvenile diabetes are recognized the sooner the child can be taken to the doctor for the proper tests to diagnose this disease. Diabetes in children, while incurable, can be managed successfully with a combination of insulin therapy and diet. Left untreated diabetes can cause a whole host of complications that can seriously affect any diabetics ability to live a normal life.
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