Battling Diabetes In Children

January 17, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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What Is Type I Diabetes?

Type I Diabetes is a disease that affects people at any age, any time. It is also known as Juvenile Diabetes because it is most often seen in children and young adults (teens). The pancreas halts production of insulin, the hormone that aids glucose to enter cells. When glucose (sugar) enters cells, it use then used to create energy. Insulin also allows other internal organs such as the liver, to store glucose to be used for energy at a later time. Without insulin, the body is unable to use glucose properly, resulting in many health problems.

One very serious problem that can occur is a condition known as Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). When the body does not manufacture insulin and glucose(sugar) levels g climb too high, a chemical imbalance develops in the blood. Cells are not receiving the glucose they need to produce energy and the body begins to break fat down to try and compensate. This action allows the release of ketones into the bloodstream. With the release of ketones, the body is at risk for serious damage, even death if not treated immediately.
Source: Web MD.

The Signs of Type I Diabetes.

* Thirst – Children are often thirsty, but when a child suddenly becomes thirsty and drinks much more than they normally would, it is time to take a close look at what is going on.

* Frequent urination.

* Weight loss without dieting or added exercise.

* In some cases, the child or adult will become hungrier than normal.

Each symptom on its own does not signify Type 1 Diabetes. But, added together these signs are a good indication that Type 1 Diabetes may be the culprit. Since the symptoms can take time to develop, often the parent may assume the child has a ‘bug’ or the flu. The symptoms can resemble the flu and treatment is often delayed long enough to cause Diabetic ketoacidosis. How can you tell if you or your child is suffering from DKA?

Do you or they exhibit the following symptoms?

* Flushed, hot, and dry skin.
* Loss of appetite.
* Stomach pain.
* Emesis (vomiting)
* A very strong, fruity odor of the breath.
* Rapid respiration
* Over sleepy, hard to wake.
* Confusion.

If so, seek medical help right away. Only a doctor can tell you if you or your child is suffering from Type 1 Diabetes. The doctor will order a blood test to measure the glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream.

How Type I is Treated.

The routine treatment for Type 1 Diabetes focuses on keeping the blood glucose levels near the level of those for a normal, healthy person without diabetes. Parents of children with diabetes will need to check the glucose levels of their child often and give the medication prescribed by their child’s doctor. When children age, eventually they become responsible enough to take their glucose readings and inject their insulin on their own. Care should be taken to allow the child to watch as the parent fills the syringe with insulin each time an injection is needed. Children are naturally curios and as they watch their parents, their understanding of their own medication will grow. A chart on a door or side of the fridge is a wonderful way to keep track of your child’s insulin levels. Use large blocks to indicate the days of the week and break each day into three sections. Draw a face: happy/sad, or use stickers to indicate ‘good’ levels or ‘bad’ levels. Make the treatment as interesting as possible for your child. Try to keep a strong, happy face to your child, their acceptance and understanding of their condition relies on their parents attitudes. The Children’s Diabetes Foundation of Denver offers some interesting books for children and their parents on Battling Diabetes.
Books: CDFD Book Link.

Healthy Diet Is Key.

Most children with Type 1 Diabetes can enjoy a normal diet. It is imperative to teach children to take care of their bodies, so a good, balanced diet will benefit any and every child. Children with diabetes can in some cases still have foods containing sugar, but as with any food, moderation is important. If your child cannot tolerate much sugar without having a threatening jump in glucose levels, do not treat sugar as a villain. Labeling a food as ‘bad’ will only make it more tempting as they grow. An example of this is that I made this mistake with my oldest child. She was allowed one very small candy item a day, nothing more. I was military strict and when she went to visit her aunt in a different state, every dime she had taken with her was spent on sugary snacks. Sugar had been treated as an enemy, not as something we could live with or without. Forbidden items have temptation value.
Source: eHealth MD, Do Diabetic Children Need Special Foods?

Wound Care Is Essential.

All diabetics, Type I and Type II have issues with wounds being slow to heal. Each and every time you dress or undress your small child, check their body for wounds. Even a small scratch can become infected. Older children should be taught to self check their bodies for wounds and have the tools to care for them on hand. A good first aid kit should be in every medicine cabinet. Another in your car or purse will come in very handy. Children are great at getting scrapes and bruises, diabetic children are certainly no exception.

Let Your Child Play.

If you are a parent of a diabetic child, you know how hard it is to let go. The constant worry, wondering if your child is ok, if she has taken her insulin, does the school know how to handle diabetes, and just having her out of your site in general can be a nightmare. The stress can be nearly intolerable. But, you cannot hold on forever. Holding too tight can frighten your child and cause them to become withdrawn or in some cases, too much of a daredevil. Learn to give enough freedom to your child and if you are too frightened, remember, that you are only working for your child’s best interest. She will need to learn to look out for herself eventually, hold her back will not teach her to care for herself properly.

If your child does go to visit a friend or go to a playground alone, be sure to give her a fanny pack with medication and directions on how to use it properly. The fanny pack can hold a simple ‘survival’ kit. Hard candy or glucose tablets, insulin inhaler with a small icepack, a snack, and a small first aid kit. The first aid kit should have a few bandages, antibiotic cream, and gauze pads with antiseptic wash.
Caring for Diabetic Children in the Classroom
Children With Diabetes Online Community
Children’s DiabetesFoundation at Denver

For more information, visit blogs of others who have diabetes or parent children with the disease.

* Six Until Me A Post To Parents
* Juvenile Diabetes Blog, By A Teen With Diabetes
* Living With Juvenile Diabetes Symptoms, By The Mother of Two Children With the Disease.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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