Juvenile Diabetes: General Info

Juvenile on-set diabetes (type 1 diabetes) 

While Juvenile on-set Diabetes, otherwise known as type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes or childhood diabetes, only accounts for 5-10% of all cases of diabetes, it is the main cause of diabetes in children. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by persistent high blood sugar. It is caused by decreased or lack of insulin production, and requires the use of insulin injections and constant monitoring of blood sugar levels. Physiologically, juvenile diabetes is triggered by an auto-immune response that causes the destruction of or damage to the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Juvenile diabetes can be brought on by infection, stress, or environmental exposure, along with a genetic predisposition to the disease. It can develop suddenly, with excessive thirst and urination being the first symptoms. There may be changes in appetite, weight loss, and extreme fatigue, as well as changes in vision, rapid deep breathing, and the smell of acetone on the breath. Behavioral changes include altered state of consciousness, aggression, mania, and in the most severe form, diabetic coma (which can be fatal).

Type 2 (or type II) diabetes and children/teenagers

Generally, the onset of type 2 diabetes occurs later in life, and is related to lifestyle and obesity. However, Type II diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed in children and teenagers. Research by the National Institute of Health shows that less than half of Americans are of normal weight, and more than one third can be called obese. Approximately 16 percent of children and teens from ages 9 to 19 are also overweight -- leading to increased diagnosis of Type II diabetes in this age group. Efforts are being made to educate the public about the dangers of Type II diabetes in young people, and to prevent its onset with healthy eating habits and the adoption of a less sedentary lifestyle. (For further information on childhood obesity.)

Treatment of juvenile diabetes

Treatment of juvenile diabetes starts with proper diagnosis derived from early screening, which is recommended for people at high risk for the disease. When a diagnosis is made, it is important to follow the instructions of eating and medications in order to make sure that the blood sugar does not fall too low (hypoglycemia). Eating well-balanced, healthy meals is very important, not only for weight control, but also to manage diabetes. Included in such a diet should be fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dried beans, nuts). Exercise is also important as it helps keep the weight off and enables the insulin to work more efficiently. In short, if strict attention is paid to diet, exercise, and monitoring blood sugar, diabetes is not a death sentence. However, if it is not properly diagnosed and managed, diabetes can be a very serious, life-threatening condition.

For more information on managing your diabetes see the following article from TheDietChannel: 8 Ways to Control Your Blood Sugar Levels.