If your child has been recently diagnosed with juvenile diabetes or Type 1 Diabetes, you must be scared and will probably blame yourself for it. But rest assured, there’s nothing you could have done to prevent juvenile diabetes from happening.
That said, being diabetic is not the end of the world. Your child can still lead a happy, wholesome life. Equipping yourself with knowledge is the first step towards ensuring health for your little one.
Causes of Juvenile Diabetes
Although, the exact cause for juvenile diabetes is still unknown, doctors and scientists are of the opinion that the body’s own immune system that fights harmful virus and bacteria sometimes accidentally destroys the islets in the pancreas (also called the insulin-producing cells). Sometimes, exposure to Epstein-Barr virus, Coxsackie virus, rubella or cytome also causes the islets to destroy. Cow’s milk has also been linked to an increasing risk of juvenile diabetes. Once the islets are destroyed due to any one of these reasons, the pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is responsible for the release of glucose or energy from the blood into the cells, and thus, lowers the amount of glucose or sugar in the blood stream. The absence of insulin continues to raise the glucose levels in the blood. No energy is released into the cells.
Symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes
When your child’s pancreas stops producing insulin, he might begin exhibiting the symptoms below:
The excess sugar in the bloodstream begins to pull fluids from your child’s tissues. He might experience an increased thirst and an urge to urinate.
Unexplained weight loss:
Without the energy reaching the cells, the fat stores suddenly begin to shrink. Your child might begin to lose weight rapidly, in spite of eating more.
The energy or glucose never reaches your child’s cells. This makes him increasingly tired, and he might begin to complain of fatigue.
The increased thirst, urge to urinate, constant hunger and fatigue might cause your child to be irritable.
High levels of glucose might cause fluid to be pulled off from your child’s lenses causing blurred vision.
Girls with juvenile diabetes might complain of itching in the genital area, and babies might develop a diaper rash.
Tests and Diagnosis
If your child’s pediatrician suspects diabetes, he/she might do a random blood sugar testing. A blood sugar level of more than 200mg/dL indicates diabetes. If your child’s blood sugar is lesser than that level, but your pediatrician still suspects it due to your child’s symptoms, your doctor might go for Glycated hemoglobin (A1C). This test is done to determine the average blood sugar level for the past 2 or 3 months.
Juvenile diabetes requires insulin treatment, i.e. injecting insulin into the blood, since insulin when taken orally interferes with the stomach enzymes. Your child’s pediatrician might prescribe any of the insulin types:
such as insulin lispro (Humalog) and insulin aspart (NovoLog). This starts working in about 15 minutes and peaks in about an hour after injection.
such as human insulin (Humulin R, Novolin R). This starts working in about half an hour and peaks in about 2-4 hours after injection.
such as insulin glargine (Lantus). This has almost no peaks and provides coverage for longer duration of almost 20-26 hours.
such as NPH insulin (Humulin N, Novolin N). This starts working within 30 minutes after being taken and peaks in 4-6 hours.
Recommended Foods and Nutrition for Juvenile Diabetes
A general thumb rule is to give your child foods low on Glycemic Index and which would not deprive him of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber and essential vitamins and keep his blood sugars within normal range. You might like to consider the following choices in consultation with her nutritionist:
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards.
- Kidney beans, Pinto beans, black beans which are rich in magnesium and potassium and also wholesome sources of protein
- Citrus Fruits
- Whole grains such as whole wheat, whole rye, buckwheat
- Fat-free milk and yogurt
Children with juvenile diabetes are also at the risk of hypoglycemia. Sometimes, an increase in the levels of physical activity or even high levels of insulin might lead to rapid falling down of sugar levels. In such case, your child might exhibit the below symptoms :
- Dramatic behavior changes
- Loss of consciousness
If your child is going through hypoglycemia, it is essential that his blood sugars be spiked up instantly. Feed him a candy, regular soda, fruit juice, hard candy, and test his blood sugar after another 15 minutes. If his blood sugar levels do not return to normal, keep feeding him juice till they return to normal.
With correct nutrition and proper exercise, juvenile diabetes can be managed. Make sure that his teachers, nannies and day care are aware of his condition and the actions to be taken in a case of hypoglycemia. Join support groups and be more aware of the condition. Loads of positivism and an active lifestyle will put your child back on the road of happiness and joy.