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Type 1 diabetes often goes unnoticed by parents, as symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for other medical conditions. Failing to accurately diagnose type 1 diabetes can be dangerous and lead to additional complications. Learn the signs, symptoms, and the best way to manage type 1 diabetes in children.
Type 1 diabetes also goes by the name “juvenile diabetes” or insulin-dependent diabetes. This is due to the fact that most people are diagnosed in childhood, even though type 1 diabetes can persist into adulthood. Type 1 diabetes is a less common form of diabetes, representing only 5% of cases.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin. This form of diabetes is considered an autoimmune disorder because the immune system destroys the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that transports glucose from the bloodstream to the body’s cells. Because glucose is the body’s major source of energy, an effective metabolism and method of transporting glucose is a critical bodily function. When glucose cannot get from the bloodstream to the cells, it builds up and blood sugar levels can spike dangerously high or drop too low.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes typically emerge during childhood, though this form of diabetes can occur at any age. There are two main peaks in the onset of type 1 diabetes: One between the ages of 4 and 7 years old, and the other between the ages of 10 and 14.
Type 1 diabetes can be tricky to diagnose, because its symptoms are often camouflaged as another disease. Plus, children may not be good at reporting their symptoms, leading parents to miss the signs. Following are the most common type 1 diabetes symptoms:
· Frequent urination
· Increased thirst
· Extreme hunger
· Weight loss without explanation
· Mood changes
· Bedwetting (particularly if children did not previously wet the bed)
· Blurred vision
If your child exhibits one or more of these symptoms, take them to a medical provider for a check-up. Your care provider can order a blood test to measure hemoglobin A1C levels or fasting blood glucose levels. The results of these tests will help to diagnose type 1 diabetes.
There is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, although investigations of novel treatments like stem cell therapy are underway. At present, the only type 1 diabetes treatments are taking insulin and making lifestyle changes. Insulin may be administered through injections or an insulin pump. It is also important for people with type 1 diabetes to monitor their diet and exercise levels. Counting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in meals helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. Exercising regularly also helps with diabetes management. It is essential to check blood sugar levels frequently to make sure your child stays within a healthy range.
Poorly managed diabetes increases the risk for heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, blindness, and bacterial or fungal infections. Work with a CareSpot Urgent Care provider to manage type 1 diabetes and ensure your child’s continued health.