Battling Diabetes In Children

January 17, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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.

Environmental and Lifestyle Risk Factors for Diabetes

January 8, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Why any particular person gets diabetes isn’t completely known. Complicating the situation is the fact that there are different types of the disease, though Type 1 and Type 2 are the most common. Of those, Type 2 accounts for about 90% of cases.

Fortunately for those who are at risk, many factors are lifestyle choices and therefore can be altered. Even after contracting the disease, much of the management of the disease involves controllable issues.

Obesity is widely recognized as one of the leading risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. While there is a genetic influence – some shed or gain weight and body fat more easily than others – it is subject to influence by choices. A high BMI (Body Mass Index) is an adjustable number with the proper diet and exercise.

A BMI of higher than 27 correlates with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. The number should not be taken as a sole determinant, however, since its diagnostic value is less for those who are very muscular or are pregnant. But a high BMI is an indicator of obesity and should be checked.

Beyond simply being overweight, where the majority of excess body fat resides plays a role in the odds of contracting Type 2 diabetes. Those who tend to store body fat around the waist are at higher risk. While that in itself is largely a genetic issue – some individuals are naturally pear-shaped, others are not – the results can be influenced by diet and exercise.

Claims of supplements that target fat at the waistline are yet to be proven. Similarly, assertions that it’s possible to selectively remove waistline body fat through specific exercises are ill-founded. But an overall weight-reducing diet and general exercise program will help reduce large fat deposits, including those of the waistline.

More generally, a sedentary lifestyle increases the odds of contracting Type 2 diabetes. Partly that’s the result of adopting a mindset that brings with it a number of less than ideal choices. But in particular, the lack of exercise is a direct cause of higher body fat percentage as well as a number of follow on effects.

Exercise certainly burns calories. But even the resting state burns about 70 calories per hour just to power metabolic processes. But regular movement helps stimulate the lymph system, strengthen and loosen muscles, oxygenate tissues and brings with it many other positive benefits.

Exercise helps control blood pressure, a factor in contracting diabetes. It helps regulate glucose levels, which have a major role in the disease since excess glucose in the blood is a defining attribute of diabetes. It alters cholesterol levels, another risk factor for contracting the condition.

Though the risk of contracting diabetes is present for anyone, it’s good to know you can drive it to much lower odds by adopting healthy choices.

Standard Diagnoses For Diabetes

January 2, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Diabetes is characterized by abnormally elevated blood glucose levels over a period of time. Insulin is either produced in too low amount (Type 1) or not used properly (Type 2). Insulin is the principle hormone that helps the cells take up glucose. Since the amount is higher than normal, it’s possible to take different tests that detect them.

One of the standard tests is called a ‘Fasting Plasma Glucose’ (FPG) test. The patient foregos eating for at least 8 hours (usually nothing after midnight). The test is administered by drawing blood and measuring the results. A normal fasting glucose level will be lower than about 99 mg/dL.

Levels between 100-125 mg/dL are an indication of a condition professionals call ‘pre-diabetes’. In this case, the person doesn’t have diabetes but is very likely to develop it within a few years unless management of glucose levels is undertaken by diet, exercise and possibly medication.

A level of 126 mg/dL or higher is a very strong indicator of full blown diabetes. When it’s seen doctors will typically recommend other tests to aid in confirming the diagnosis. One of those is called an ‘Oral Glucose Tolerance Test’ (OGTT).

A patient who has fasted drinks a high glucose liquid (75 grams, not tasty but not harmful) and blood is drawn to test. The glucose levels are measured, then the test is repeated at intervals, usually two hours later, then three, then four. Sometimes the test interval is 30 min, 1 hour, 2 hours and so on.

A 2-hour glucose level of 139 mg/dL or below is considered normal. Insulin is released by the body in reaction to the high glucose and the cells take it up. But when the number is still 140-199 mg/dL two hours later, this is an indication that inadequate insulin is released or its normal action is being hindered. That suggests pre-diabetes. When the number is 200 mg/dL or higher, diabetes is indicated.

In the latter case, physicians will often recommend repeating the test at a later date to confirm the diagnosis. Many things can temporarily alter the body’s blood glucose levels and its ability to regulate them. For example, taking steroids significantly alters blood glucose levels, as do certain diuretics. Pregnancy is one common example of a condition affecting glucose levels.

Another type of diabetes, one that occurs in about 3% of pregnancies (usually during 24-28 weeks gestation), is known as gestational diabetes. The OGTT is used to detect that as well. The test will be administered four times and the blood glucose level measured at each instance.

Another test commonly used is called the ‘Random Plasma Glucose’ (RPG) test. In this case a blood test is done without fasting. When the level is 200 mg/dL or higher it can indicate the presence of diabetes. Common symptoms are taken into account as well, such as unusually frequent urination, abnormal continued thirst even after drinking water and others.

No single test conclusively proves that a person has diabetes. Since the condition is potentially serious, though often managed with minimal lifestyle interruption, a battery of tests should be used before reaching a confirmed diagnosis.

Exercise to Control Diabetes

October 16, 2007 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Many factors contribute to the onset of diabetes, including genetic predisposition and diet. But exercise can help reduce the odds of getting and the severity of this disease.

Diabetes comes in two types, Type I and Type II. In either case, the body has difficulty regulating the level of blood glucose. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body’s activities.

One basic reason is the inability to produce the proper amount of insulin, a hormone that helps transport glucose to the cells. In Type I diabetes the body can’t produce adequate insulin, so the loss has to be made up from the outside, usually via injection. This is the more serious type and control of the condition requires obtaining medical advice.

In Type II diabetes, individuals produce insulin, but it’s less effective in performing its role as a transport aid. This is the type that is more likely to occur as we age. The kidneys become less efficient and we tend to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. We sometimes worsen our odds by being more indulgent about food. The long term effects add up.

Type II can be controlled with diet and exercise and with careful self-monitoring under the care of a physician, the effects can be minimal.

Exercise helps increase insulin sensitivity. It also reduces body fat, which helps regulate the amount of glucose needed and used. Weight training helps by increasing the metabolic rate, reducing body fat. At the same time, it increases the use of glucose used by muscles and improves the ability of muscle tissue to store it. All those help achieve the preferred glucose level.

Get professional advice and start any new program slowly, particularly if you have not been active habitually. Pain from doing too much too soon is one of the leading factors that discourages people from continuing a program. Also, the body needs time to adjust to changes in hormone level, metabolic level and thus glucose and insulin levels.

Be sure to warm up for five to ten minutes at minimum. Easy stretches and low-impact, low heart rate exercise help get the muscles infused with blood and joints limber. Take care not to exercise when it is too hot. Heat stroke (from too high an internal temperature and lack of fluid) is a risk, and more so for those who are older.

Humidity levels are a factor to consider, as well. The body’s ability to regulate internal temperature is made less efficient when the moisture content of the air is high. The heat doesn’t travel out of the sweat and off the skin so readily. On hot and/or humid days, wear loose fitting clothing and reduce the time and vigor of your routine.

Walking is a great way to get started. Try to walk on grass rather than concrete or asphalt, but with good shoes you do either. An hour per day every day is best, but even 20 minutes three or four days per week will help.

Persistence is key. Reducing the odds of getting diabetes, or controlling it once you have it, require permanent lifestyle changes. But the benefits are not only the absence of a debilitating disease, but a healthy body and improved mood.

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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.