Diabetes is one the most common lifestyle diseases of today. It is a silent killer which destroys you taking time and which is a serious issue to look into. Diabetes affects not only adults but children and teenagers too. Nowadays diabetes rates are rising in youngsters quite fast. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020 around 210,000 children and teenagers under the age of 20 years in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes in children previously called Juvenile Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not able to produce the required amount of insulin. Without insulin, sugar cannot travel from the blood into the cells and the condition of high blood sugar levels thus occur.
Individuals can develop type 1 diabetes at any age from early child to adulthood but the average age of diagnosis is 13 years. About 85% of all the type 1 diagnoses occur in the age group of 20 years.
The treatment involves the lifelong use of insulin, monitoring blood sugar and lifestyle management which involves diet and exercise maintenance to help keep blood sugar levels in the targeted range.
Type 2 diabetes
It is uncommon in children but can happen if the mechanism of insulin production is not working correctly. Because without enough insulin there can be unwanted accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. The chances of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age but children too can get it. The rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing with obesity. Over 75% of children with type 2 diabetes have it because of genetic factors or shared lifestyle habits. People can manage type 2 diabetes by changing the diet, getting more exercise and maintaining a balanced weight setup.
Symptoms of diabetes
The symptoms of diabetes are of the same kind in children, teenagers and adults. Some of the symptoms are common in both types of diabetes but there are some differences to differentiate them too.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop rapidly over a few weeks. Those of type 2 diabetes develop more slowly. It can take months or years to diagnose it.
Type 1 diabetes—-The main symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents are—1.Increased thirst and urination
3. Weight loss
6.A fruity smell on the breath
7. Blurred vision
Yeast infections in females can also be a symptom of diabetes. Some people will be experiencing Diabetic Ketoacidosis(DKA)at the time of diagnosis. This happens when the body begins to burn fat for energy because of lack of insulin. It is a serious condition which needs treatment.
People can get a diagnosis before DKA develops by recognizing the 4 main symptoms of type 1 diabetes. People should be aware of the ‘4 Ts’ in children:-
1.Toilet–The child may be using the bathroom frequently, infants may be having heavier diapers, or bedwetting may be there after being dry for some time.
2.Thirsty-The child may be drinking more fluids and feel thirsty than usual.
3.Tired-The child may be feeling more tired than usual.
4.Thinner–The child may be losing weight.
Type 2 diabetes—The main symptoms of type 2 diabetes include—
1.Urinating more than usual especially at night
4.Unexplained weight loss
5.Itching around genitals possibly with a yeast infection
6.Slow healing of cuts or wounds
7.Blurred vision as a result of eye dryness
A symptom of insulin resistance is the development of dark, velvety-like patches of skin called Acanthosis Nigricans.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is another condition associated with insulin resistance though it is not a typical sign of it. Parents should consult a doctor immediately if they notice any of the above symptoms.
DKA is a severe life threatening condition which requires immediate treatment. If the insulin level is very low, the body cannot use glucose for energy. So it starts to break down fat for energy which leads to the production of chemicals called ketones which can be quite toxic at high levels. When the chemicals build up, it leads to DKA and then the body becomes acidic. The early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes can stop DKA but sadly it does not happen as such always.
Prevention of diabetes
While type 2 diabetes is largely preventable, it is a bit difficult to prevent type 1 diabetes. By following these steps the onslaught of this disease can be prevented—
1.Maintain proper weight––The extra weight increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes because it increases the chance of insulin resistance.
2.Stay active––By staying active one can reduce insulin resistance and help manage blood pressure.
3.Stop taking sugar and beverages having sugar—By consuming foods high in sugar leads to weight gain and problems with functioning of insulin. So by eating a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins, fiber and lean proteins can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The rates of diabetes in children and youth are rising drastically. We can manage the symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes with a healthy and regular diet and prescribed medications. If one can control the symptoms well enough a person with diabetes can still lead a hearty and healthy life.