Children and Diabetes
Diabetes, a disease in which the glucose or blood sugar levels are higher than normal, ¡s one of the most common lifestyle diseases that affect adults. However, with changing lifestyle trends, the disease Is no longer restricted to adults, as an increasing number of children in India are also being affected by this disease. Nevertheless, understanding the types, causes, and means of prevention of the disease can surely help address the growing concern of diabetes in the younger population.
Type I Diabetes
Earlier called Insulin-Dependent Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes, Type I Diabetes occurs as a result of the pancreas’ inability to produce insulin. However, the exact cause remains unknown. But in most people, the body’s own Immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islets) cells in the pancreas. Scientists reason that the destruction of these cells may be a result of a genetic predisposition and environmental factors that appear to play a role in the process.
If left untreated, Type II Diabetic may, lead to blindness, heart disease, and kidney failure.
Type II Diabetes
Formerly called Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes or Adult-Onset Diabetes, Type Il Diabetes is vastly different from Type I Diabetes. Unlike in the case of Type I Diabetes, the body can still produce insulin, however, it is not enough to meet the individual’s needs. Despite the presence of the insulin-making hormone, the child’s blood sugar level may increase. If left untreated, it may lead to blindness, heart disease, and kidney failure. Also, unfortunately, Type Il Diabetes progresses faster in teenagers than in adults.
Prediabetes is a condition whereby the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to diagnose the condition as diabetes. Also, it controlled, pre-diabetes can delay the onset of Type I or Type II Diabetes.
Causes Of Diabetes
The chances of a child being diagnosed with diabetes are higher when either or both parents have the condition. In such cases, babies have a higher chance of being born with diabetes or contracting the disease between the ages of 25 to 50. It is also important for women to keep their blood sugar under control when pregnant, as the placenta absorbs sugar and can imbue the foetus with it.
On contracting a common ailment like a cold, your immune system produces antibodies in order to tight, leaving it exhausted. With the antibodies getting consumed to destroy the cold, insulin production goes down, resulting in diabetes.
Viral infections can be a trigger for Type I diabetes, as they destroy insulin-producing cells. However, this is not a common cause of diabetes and occurs only in case of a history of low immunity.
Lack Of Physical Activity
Little or no physical activity decreases the functioning of the cells that are responsible for insulin production. Consequently, blood sugar levels are affected, leading to diabetes.
Eating carbohydrates which are easily absorbed by the body such as sweets, chocolates, sugar, etc. can increase the load on the pancreatic gland. And the gradual exhaustion of insulin cells leads to diabetes.
If your child has diabetes, he or she may present with symptoms such as excessive urination, excessive thirst, hunger and fatigue, darkened skin and slow healing infections or sores. Type I diabetes symptoms are easily detected, whereas those of type Il diabetes often develop over a period of time.
- Proper management of diabetes can help your child in minimizing the risk of life-threatening complications later on.
- Educate your child about the importance of lifelong diabetes care and how maintaining a healthy diet and inculcating daily exercise habits, help maintain a healthy weight. Indulging in games or any kind of organised sports or outdoor play can be a good way to get kids to move.
- Equip him or her to test blood sugar by oneself and inject insulin (in cases of Type I Diabetes).
- Be a role model by practicing healthy habits as children ape what elders do.
- It’s important to schedule regular visits with your child’s endocrinologist and undergo an eye examination, beginning no more than five years from the time the initial diagnosis of diabetes is made (specifically in cases of Type 1 diabetes).