Type 1 diabetes can occur in children, either when they are infants, toddlers or sometimes manifests in the teen years. Type 1 diabetes is a situation when your child’s body can no longer naturally produce the needed level of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes. It is also called insulin-dependent diabetes because to keep the insulin level within a normal range; your child may need insulin injections.
All About Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Type 1 Diabetes is a life-changing disease because all of a sudden, because parents need to make many changes in their lifestyle to cope up with the disease in their child. They have to learn how to give insulin injections, and how to monitor the blood sugar levels regularly to keep the child healthy. Diabetes management is crucial in children with type 1 diabetes to give them a good quality of life while keeping the disease under check.
What are the Causes of Type 1 Diabetes?
Although the research is going on, the exact cause of type 1 diabetes in children is still unknown. But it has been seen that in children with type 1 diabetes, the child’s immune system destroys the insulin-making cells mistakenly. Scientists also think that type 1 diabetes in children is also caused by genetic factors that contribute to destruction of the insulin-making cells.
Environmental factors, such as viruses may also trigger this process. It has been seen in several studies that type 1 diabetes follows viral infections like rubella, mumps, encephalitis, measles, or polio. Type 1 diabetes in children is also caused sometimes due to an injury to the pancreas.
But several studies are going on to find the exact causes of type 1 diabetes in children to prevent the disease or at least lower the harmful side effects.
What are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?
The most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children are:
- Increased urination
- Increased appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Mood swings
- Weight loss without trying
- Headache and nausea
- Yeast infections
- The urge to urinate in the middle of the night
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- Sudden emergence of bedwetting in children
When Do You Visit the Doctor?
Children always cannot express their problems. Therefore, it is very important to monitor them properly. If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately because diabetes can lead to severe organ damage if left unchecked for many days.
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What are the Risk Factors for Type 1 diabetes?
The risk of getting type 1 diabetes increases:
- If there is a family history of the disease or If parents or siblings have a history of type 1 diabetes, there are chances that your child may also develop it.
- Certain genetic factors are also responsible for increasing the risk of developing type 1 diabetes in children.
- Age is a big risk factor in developing type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, it is common in children of two age groups. One is between the age group of 4 to 7, and the other is the age group between 10 to 14 years.
What are the Treatment Options for Type 1 Diabetes in Children?
As children cannot be expected to be that aware , you have to be extra cautious with your child’s diabetes and monitor the sugar levels regularly. You also need to consult a doctor as and when required. The treatment options for type 1 diabetes in children are:
- Taking Insulin. There are several types of insulin available in the market, such as rapid-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, long and ultra-long-acting insulin, and also intermediate-acting insulin. Your child’s doctor will decide which insulin is best for your child and prescribe accordingly.
- Regular Blood Sugar Monitoring. There are many blood sugar monitoring devices easily available in the market. The more regular you are, in testing the sugar levels, the safer your child will be.
- A Healthy Diet. You need to include a healthy diet for your child to maintain a healthy sugar level. Your child’s diet should include many nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. A dietician can help you follow a diet chart according to carbohydrate counts in food.
- Regular Exercise. Motivate your child to exercise more. Children suffering from type 1 diabetes should be physically active to avoid obesity. You should monitor your child’s blood sugar levels even more with each new activity.
What are the Complications of Type 1 Diabetes?
If left untreated for a prolonged period, type 1 diabetes can lead to damage in different organs, such as the heart, eyes, and kidneys and in the nerves and blood vessels. Therefore, it is important to monitor blood sugar levels regularly to avoid several complications of type 1 diabetes in children.
- Excessive sugar build-up can lead to diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage. This may cause a tingling sensation, especially in the legs. The tingling sensation gradually increases to numbness, pain, and burning sensation. If the blood sugar levels are not controlled on time, it may lead to loss of sensation in your child’s limbs.
- Type 1 diabetes is a big cause of cardiovascular problems if left undiagnosed and untreated. It can lead to heart attack, narrowing of the arteries, angina, and high blood pressure even in children.
- Diabetes can severely affect the kidneys. Children who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes might suffer from kidney diseases if the sugar levels are not maintained from the very beginning. Diabetes can lead to kidney damage (nephropathy) or irreversible kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Type 1 diabetes in children can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which can cause blindness. Diabetes if left unchecked, can also lead to glaucoma and cataracts.
- Nerve damage or obstruction in blood flow to the feet is a common complication of type 1 diabetes. If you do not keep your child’s sugar levels in control, it could lead to serious side effects. Even minor cuts can turn into serious infections leading to limb amputations.
- Type 1 diabetes can make children more susceptible to mouth and skin infections. Bacterial and viral infections accompanied by dry mouth are common complications.
- Type 1 diabetes in your child could lead to osteoporosis. Diabetes decreases the bone’s normal mineral density, leading to several bone-related problems when the child becomes an adult.
What are the Preventive Measures for Type 1 Diabetes?
Scientists are working on finding ways to prevent the disease. There are no proven methods to prevent the disease from occurring, but that does not stop your child’s life from being normal; . Type 1 diabetes can be controlled if not cured. Therefore, you should regularly check your child’s blood sugar levels, maintain a healthy diet, and avoid sugary and starchy food items. Please do not panic. Let your child live his life free from worries. Do not force any strict regimen on your child, which will make him or her feel depressed or anxious.
Give your children a stress-free life so that they can cope with a disease like diabetes. Proper and timely monitoring can give your child a normal and healthy life despite having type 1 diabetes.