Type 1 diabetes in children is a medical condition where their pancreas no longer produces insulin which is essential to survival. Formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes, treatment for this condition in children usually involves replacing the missing insulin. Diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes in children can often be overwhelming in the beginning due to suddenness of the discovery, depending on the age of the child & learning to monitor blood sugar, count carbohydrates & giving injections. Advances in blood sugar monitoring & insulin delivery has drastically improved daily management of Type 1 diabetes in children even though this requires consistent care.
Typically developing very quickly, signs & symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in children include the following. Therefore talk to the doctor in case you notice any of these signs & symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in children.
Although exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is still unknown, genetics may be playing an active role in process & exposure to certain viruses which may be triggering this disease. Body’s own immune system that normally fights harmful viruses & bacteria are found to mistakenly destroy insulin producing cells in pancreas in most people with Type 1 diabetes.
Whatever may be the cause of Type 1 diabetes, it is noticed that once islet cells of pancreas are destroyed, children will produce almost little or no insulin at all. Insulin normally helps glucose enter body cells so as to provide energy to tissues & muscles. This insulin normally comes from pancreas which is a gland located behind the stomach. Pancreas secretes more insulin into bloodstream when you eat in a normal healthy condition. This circulating insulin acts like a key by unlocking microscopic cell doors which allow sugar to enter them & subsequently lowering the amount of sugar within the blood stream. Secretion of the level of insulin from pancreas also drops along with decrease in blood sugar levels. Liver acts as a glucose storage & manufacturing center in the entire process. When you have not eaten & insulin levels are low, liver releases stored glycogen which is subsequently converted to glucose so as to keep blood glucose levels in normal range.
None of this activity ever takes place in Type 1 diabetes patients as there is very little or no insulin to let go glucose into cells. Therefore, instead of being transported into cells, sugar builds up within bloodstream so as to cause life-threatening complications in children. Cause of Type 1 diabetes is however different from the more common Type 2 diabetes as islet cells are still functioning in Type 2 diabetes where body is found to become resistant to insulin or pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin.
Some of the known & possible risk factors for Type 1 diabetes are listed below.
Type 1 diabetes, is found to be capable of affecting nearly all major organs in children’s bodies including kidneys, eyes, nerves, blood vessels & heart. However, keeping blood sugar levels close to normal most of the time among children can dramatically reduce risk of developing any complications. Complications relating to Type 1 diabetes develop gradually. These diabetic complications can often be disabling or life-threatening in children whose blood sugar levels are not well-controlled.
On suspicion of diabetes among children, doctors usually recommend them to undergo screening tests. Doctors will also run blood tests to check for auto-antibodies when children are diagnosed with Diabetes. Auto-antibodies are common in Type 1 diabetes & therefore help doctors distinguish between Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes. Presence of Ketones, which are byproducts from breakdown of fats, in urine of children also suggest Type 1 diabetes rather than Type 2 diabetes. Primary tests utilized to diagnose Type 1 diabetes in children include the following.
Children will have to regularly visit doctors so as to ensure good diabetic management after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Doctors will also check A1C levels of children during these visits. Target A1C goal may however vary depending upon the age & various other factors concerning children. In comparison with repeated daily blood sugar tests, A1C testing will better indicate the efficacy of the prescribed diabetes treatment plan. Elevated A1C levels will however signal need for change in meal plan or insulin regimen of children. Doctors will also periodically check liver function, thyroid function, cholesterol levels, kidney-function using blood & urine samples & periodical test for celiac disease in addition to performing A1C tests. Doctors will also examine children so as to assess growth & high blood pressure along with checking sites where blood sugar tests & insulin delivery were performed in children.
There is practically nothing as of now that we could have done so as to prevent occurrence of Type 1 diabetes in children. Tests can however be done to find out if any antibodies associated with Type 1 diabetes are present. But presence of these antibodies does not certainly mean that diabetes will occur. Presently, there is no known procedure to prevent Type 1 diabetes even if these antibodies were found. While there is almost nothing we could have done to prevent diabetes in children, we could however help prevent any complications arising due to Type 1 diabetes by helping them maintain proper blood sugar control as much as possible. Additionally, ensure to schedule regular visits to diabetes doctors & undergo annual eye examination beginning as early as 5 years after initial diagnosis of diabetes. Moreover, children with Type 1 diabetes should eat healthy diets made up of whole grains, vegetables & fruits & regularly participate in physical activities which help keep hearts healthy.
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