Type 1 Diabetes in Children: Symptoms, Causes & Management

Often referred to as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes in children is a very critical condition if no serious actions are taken to manage the symptoms. Managing diabetes at an early age requires difficult and careful regimens, which young children usually dislike. Diabetic children may feel a little emotionally left out because of their condition. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment protocol and emotional support, both parents and children may live a normal happy life.

What Are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Children?

 Listed below are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes:

Symptom

Description 

Increased urination and thirst

Due to elevated blood sugar levels, the fluid present within the tissues is pulled out, so the child may feel thirsty. This will enhance the thirst, followed by high water intake and more frequent urination.

Feeling excessively hungry

Organs and muscles are also deprived of energy due to insufficient insulin in the body, which affects the normal tissue uptake of sugar in cells. All these factors can lead to excessive hunger and food intake.

Weight loss

Even when your child is consuming high proportion of calories, he may still lose some weight mainly because of poor energy levels. In the early stages of diabetes, a lot of people tend to lose significant weight due to fat redistribution.

Fatigue

Lethargy and tiredness are common symptoms as the cells are unable to get enough sugar.

Irritability

If the condition remains undiagnosed, your child may appear irritable with twitchy mood swings.

Blurred vision

Elevated blood sugar levels lead to abnormal fluid movement across the lens and other tissues of the body, which leads to blurred vision.

Yeast infection

Girls who are with type 1 diabetes may be affected by genital yeast infection. This infection may also increase the chances of developing a diaper rash in the babies.

Note: In case you observe any of the above symptoms in your child, consult your doctor immediately.

What Causes Type 1 Diabetes in Children?

The common perception that prevails in our society is that diabetes results from eating lots of sugars or sweet stuff which is not completely true. The scientists are not exactly sure about the actual cause of the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic cells that leads to type 1 diabetes. However, they do believe that a number of environmental and genetic factors may contribute to the pathogenesis.

Unlike type 2 diabetes in children, type 1 diabetes is the disorder of the immune system, characterized by destruction of body’s beta cells present within the pancreas. These cells are responsible for the production of insulin. Therefore, if these cells are destroyed, the body fails to secrete normal quantities of insulin. This is followed by elevated blood glucose level that may consequently damage the organs.

What Are the Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes in Children?

  • Genetic factor. If a child has personal or positive family history of diabetes, the risk of this metabolic issue increases significantly. If a child has type 1 diabetes in his index relatives, genetic tests should be conducted to check if he is at risk of developing this issue due to genetic reasons.
  • Viral infection. Certain viral infections caused by infectious agents like cytomegalovirus, rubella, Coxsackie virus and Epstein-Bar virus may damage and destroy the islet cells permanently and lead to DM.
  • Decline in vitamin D levels. According to the latest research, normal vitamin D levels in the serum can protect against diabetes and other autoimmune conditions. In addition, the consumption of cow milk in the early period may elevate the risk in certain genetically susceptible individuals.
  • Dietary aspects. High content of nitrates in water can escalate the chances of type 1 diabetes. In addition, introducing cereal to a baby in his early months may also aggravate the risk. The optimal age to introduce cereals should be 4-7 months.

How to Help My Child Manage Type 1 Diabetes

A proper functioning team of diabetes educators, physician, psychologist, social worker and dietitian is what you will need to minimize the risk of complications. Follow the tips below to make things work for your child:

1. Make Sure Your Follows the Prescription Strictly

Constantly remind your children to take his medications on time. Make sure his medications are well balanced with the everyday activities and food. This can easily be done if your child is close to you and is directly under your supervision. Provide all the handy information to your child regarding his condition.

2. Educate Your Child About How to Manage His Nutrition

Help your children understand the significance of balancing calorie intake. Tell him about carbohydrates like rice, pasta, bread, colas and juices. Teach him what is healthy for his condition and what’s not.

3. Keep a Close Eye on the Blood Sugar Level of Your Child

Tell your child the normal range of blood sugar for type 1 diabetics. He should have a full command on blood glucose meter, so he could regularly check his blood sugar level without assistance. Make sure he develops a habit to note down the readings in an insulin log book.

4. Let Your Child Indulge in Physical Activities

Apart from keeping the weight under check, your child should indulge in an hourly physical activity every day. Monitor the levels before the beginning of every physical activity. If you find the levels lower than normal, do not permit him to indulge himself in vigorous physical activity.

Sadly, diabetes remains incurable, however, if your child strictly sticks to the treatment protocol, he will live a healthy life for sure. Your encouragement and support will motivate him to cope with his condition, and he will find himself enjoying the beauty of life, living just like people around him.

Want to know a real life experience of the parents and the girl with type 1 diabetes? Check out this video: