Juvenile diabetes is a chronic health problem for children. There are many myths and misinformation about diabetes. There is also confusion between juvenile diabetes, also known as type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. The symptoms for both are for the most part the same, however, the cause and treatment is very different.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Flu like symptoms
- Bedwetting - particularly if child was previously dry at night
- Fruity breath odor
Juvenile Diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. There is also a strong hereditary component to juvenile diabetes. Researchers believe an environmental trigger or virus causes the body to attack the beta cells in the pancreas. Once these cells are destroyed the body can no longer produce insulin.
Why is insulin important?
The body's primary source of fuel is glucose. Glucose is found in all plant based foods. Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose from the blood to the cells. Without insulin, the body is essentially starving.
Explanation of juvenile diabetes symptoms
Increased urination: Since glucose cannot reach the cells, glucose levels rises in the blood. The kidneys respond by trying to filter out the extra sugar. Urine production increases. This is why you see a marked increase in urination as a classic sign of juvenile diabetes.
Increased thirst: As the body's urination increases the person becomes more thirsty.
Important: Parents often think a child is urinating more because their child is drinking more, when in actuality they are drinking more because they are urinating more.
Increased hunger: Children with diabetes often complain of being hungry. The reason for this is simple. Without glucose reaching the body cells, their body is not being fed.
Weight loss: People often associate weight gain with diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, an overweight person is at greater risk for diabetes. Type 1 (juvenile diabetes) is different. Children will often lose weight if they have untreated diabetes. Because the body is not getting the glucose it needs, rapid weigh loss may occur.
Treatment for juvenile diabetes
At this time, there is no cure for diabetes. The only treatment for juvenile diabetes is insulin injections or an insulin pump. Insulin cannot be taken as a pill. Juvenile diabetes requires daily blood sugar checks (often 4 or more times a day). Diet and exercise is also a very important componet in treatment of diabetes.
If your child has symptoms of diabetes
If your child has symptoms of juvenile diabetes, it is important to have your child screened. Unlike type 2 diabetes, juvenile diabetes has a fairly quick onset and can lead to serious and deadly consequences if left untreated.