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Juvenile Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that means an individual’s body has difficulty converting food to fuel for their bodies to use.  While not highly common, your pediatrician will likely screen for indicators of diabetes during regular well-child visits.  If left untreated, a high blood glucose level can damage your child’s heart, kidneys, nervous system, and even blood vessels, making getting an accurate diagnosis and seeing your pediatrician for regular appointments all the more important.

What Causes Diabetes?

There are two types of diabetes and the causes for each can vary.  However, the results are essentially the same.  Normally, when your body is processing sugars, your pancreas produces an important hormone called insulin.  The insulin helps your cells absorb the glucose so that they can use it for energy to power your body throughout the day.

Type I

Type I diabetes is a chronic, lifelong condition in which the pancreas stops producing insulin.  With a Type I diagnosis, the body’s immune system, which usually fights off harmful bacteria and viruses, doesn’t recognize insulin-producing cells as friendly and necessary, thus destroying them.  Genetics and environmental factors can play a role in this type of diabetes.  There is no cure for Type I diabetes, but with an early diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan, children with Type I diabetes live normal happy lives.

Type II

For many years, Type II diabetes was called “adult-onset” diabetes due to the fact that it rarely presented in children.  However, due to the typical American diet, Type II diabetes is becoming more and more common in children.  Type II diabetes has been diagnosed in children as young as 10 years of age.  Type II may be related to genetic predisposition, but can also be caused by environmental factors, and especially diet.  There’s certainly such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Making sure your child’s nutrition in check is a major factor when it comes to preventing and managing diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes can sometimes be mistaken for other conditions, but there are some telltale indicators that you may want to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician.

General symptoms for diabetes include:

  • An increase in appetite
  • An increase in thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Urinates more frequently
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Fatigue
  • Wounds or sores that are slow to heal
  • Changes in mood
  • Frequent UTIs (female children)
  • Reduced muscle strength (male children)

With such a broad array of symptoms, it’s easy to understand how some of these indicators could be mistaken for other issues.  It’s important to note that diabetes can also be linked with obesity, not just an unexplained decrease in weight.  Children who experience more frequent urination may also be prone to bed-wetting, even though they’ve been potty trained.  Helping you monitor your child’s health is our number one priority, so speak to your provider for more information and to learn more about the symptoms of diabetes.

How is Diabetes Treated?

As we’ve mentioned, there is no cure for diabetes, but most individuals lead normal lives.  The treatment of diabetes is centered around managing blood sugar levels on the day-to-day.  This can be done in a variety of different ways, including diet, lifestyle changes, exercise, and education.  If your child is diagnosed with Type I diabetes, your doctor may recommend an insulin pump.  This small device administers insulin on an as-needed basis in lieu of traditional insulin shots.

Additionally, your doctor may recommend a blood sugar monitor which typically involves pricking a finger and testing a tiny sample of your child’s blood in order to check their blood sugar levels.  These days, there are even wireless digital blood sugar monitors that track and upload information via a discrete sensor adhered to the skin.

We’re Your Childhood Diabetes Resource

Getting a diagnosis of diabetes can be a little overwhelming at first but our providers have years of experience treating and helping children and their families manage diabetes.  Raleigh Group is your patient-centered medical home, and as is the case, our pediatricians will always provide you with the most up-to-date information based on the latest research so you can make the most informed decisions for your child’s health.  To make an appointment, reach out today.