Signs of diabetes in children

Diabetes in children is of two types, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

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In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas in the children may not have the ability or loses its ability to manufacture or produce insulin. The main function of insulin is to let glucose into the cells. Type 1 diabetes results in lack of insulin which causes the glucose to enter the bloodstream and cause severe consequences that may result in fatality. This type of diabetes is more prominent in children and used to be known as insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes.

In type 2 diabetes in children, the metabolism of glucose or sugar in a child’s body is affected. It was an adult disease but lately because of the obesity epidemic among children, type 2 diabetes has also gained prominence in children.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in children

Some of the signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in children are as follows:

Excessive hunger: The cells of the body do not get enough sugar due to deficiency in insulin in the child. This leads to a decrease in the levels of energy in the muscles and other organs thereby caused increased hunger

Excessive thirst and urination: When there is a build-up of excess sugar in the bloodstream of the child, all the fluid is drained from the tissues. This results in excessive thirst which may lead to increased water intake thereby causing frequent urination.

Weight loss: One of the first signs of type 1 diabetes in children is weight loss without any fathomable reason. Inspite of the excessive eating due to increased hunger, weight loss occurs and sometimes it is rapid weight loss. Due to the lack of energy supplies in the form of sugar, the stores of fat and muscle tissues deplete and shrink result in loss in weight.

Increase in irritability: The children with type 1 diabetes may show unusual behavior and become increasing irritable and moody

Fatigue and lethargy: Due to the lack of sugar energy levels in the body, the child may feel excessively tired and weary

Blurry vision: Fluid from the lenses of the eyes is extracted due to type 1 diabetes and this caused blurred vision.

Yeast infection: Type 1 diabetes may cause yeast infection of the genitals in girls. In addition yeast may also cause diaper rash in babies.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in children

Some of the signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in children are as follows:

• Increase in thirst and increased urination

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• Weight loss

• Fatigue

• Blurred vision

• Children with type 2 diabetes lose their ability to resist infections and heal. Hence they may also experience slow healing of wounds and sores as well as frequent infections.

• There may be areas of pigmented skin. These dark areas on the skin are more prominent on the neck or in the armpits. Heavily pigmented skin is a sign that the body is resistant to insulin.

Causes of type 1 diabetes in children

There are no definitive causes of type 1 diabetes in children. However, some of the risk factors are as follows:

• The existence of a certain kind of genes increases the vulnerability to develop the disease.

• Low levels of Vitamin D may increase the likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes.

• If any one of the parents has type 1 diabetes, then the child is at an increased risk to develop the disease.

• Exposure to certain kinds of virus like the Epstein-Barr virus, coxsackie virus, etc. leads to the destruction or disruption of insulin production triggering the disease.

• Other dietary factors like presence of nitrates in drinking a-water, early introduction of cereals in a baby’s diet, the different types of baby formulas in a baby’s diet, etc increased the risk of the child to get type 1 diabetes.

Causes of type 2 diabetes in children

When the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, it results in type 2 diabetes in children. There are no causes for this, but some of the risk factors are as follows:

• Obesity greatly increases the risk towards developing type 2 diabetes in children. This is because increased number of fatty tissues in the body increased the resistance of the cells to insulin.

• If any one of the parents has diabetes than the risk is increased, but there is no surety as to the reason being genetics or lifestyle or even both.

• Lack of exercise and play or inactivity may lead increase in unused glucose thereby increasing the risk to develop the disease.

• Certain races like Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc and girls are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than other races or boys.

Treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children

The treatment is the same for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children. They are:

• There has to be daily blood sugar monitoring of the child to check the sugar levels in the body.

• The kind and the amount of food intake have to be taken into consideration. There is no specific diabetes diet for children, but healthy food that comprises of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and limits sodas and juices is recommended.

• Physical activity and control of body weight is advisable.

• Medications that affect the blood sugar level and sometimes even insulin injections are recommended.

• Special care should be taken to monitor the blood sugar levels in children at the time of illnesses, puberty and growth spurts and before they go to sleep.

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