Juvenile Diabetes is also known as Type 1 Diabetes. It is a condition in which the cells of the pancreas no longer produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin “pushes” glucose from the blood stream into our bodies’ cells. Glucose is the energy each of our cells needs to live and grow. Without glucose, the cells waste away. With glucose high in the bloodstream (since it can’t go into the cells), the kidneys try to maintain a normal amount in the bloodstream so urination is increased. The results of the lack of insulin are to urinate large amounts, to drink large amounts due to the frequent urination, and to be very hungry due to the cells being starved. Medical jargon is polyeria, polydipsia, and polyphagia.
The cause for cessation of insulin production is not completely known. According to the Mayo Clinic’s research, some common risk factors can be:
- Family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
- Genetics. The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
- Geography. The incidence of type 1 diabetes tends to increase as you travel away from the equator. People living in Finland and Sardinia have the highest incidence of type 1 diabetes — about two to three times higher than rates in the United States and 400 times the incidence among people living in Venezuela.
- Age. Although type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, it appears at two noticeable peaks. The first peak occurs in children between 4 and 7 years old, and the second is in children between 10 and 14 years old.
Many other possible risk factors for type 1 diabetes have been investigated, though none have been proved. Some other possible risk factors include:
- Exposure to certain viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, Coxsackie virus, mumps virus and cytomegalovirus
- Early exposure to cow’s milk
- Low vitamin D levels
- Drinking water that contains nitrates
- Early (before 4 months) or late (after 7 months) introduction of cereal and gluten into a baby’s diet
- Having a mother who had preeclampsia during pregnancy
- Being born with jaundice
Most children who develop diabetes are hospitalized for two reasons:
1. To get the high blood sugar down by giving insulin
2. For education as to diet, exercise, and how to regulate blood sugar at home.
The signs and symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes usually develop quickly over a few days to a few weeks. Below are some you should be on the look out for:
- Increased thirst and urination will cause your child to drink large amounts of fluids. He or she may be up many times during the night to urinate or may even be incontinent of urine.
- Extreme hunger is very common as the cells and organs become energy-depleted since there is no insulin to allow sugar into the cells. Despite this increased hunger, weight loss occurs. The muscles shrink and fat stores are used up by the body. Unexplained weight loss is often the first sign to be noticed.
- Fatigue is common since the cells are deprived of sugar.
- Irritability or unusual behavior can occur due to changes in the brain due to high blood sugar as well as blurred vision.
If there are any concerns about diabetes, please contact our office and arrange for an evaluation immediately.