Diabetes affects millions of people around the world, and, while it is a treatable disease, it is currently unable to be cured. Unfortunately, many children and teens must deal with diabetes, whether due to genetics or lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise. With proper education and lifestyle changes, this disease can be easily managed and those diagnosed young can lead normal, happy lives.
What is Diabetes?
There are two forms of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas no longer produces insulin, which is a hormone that controls blood sugar levels in the body. The cause of type 1 is still unclear, but experts believe environmental triggers and hereditary factors play a role.
Type 2 is a metabolic disorder. The pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not use it effectively. In the past, type 2 mainly affected adults, however today, there are more and more children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Risk Factors & Symptoms
There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. While there can be a genetic component to type 1, many children with the disease do not have relatives with it.
In type 2 diabetes, risk factors include being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle, and family history. Ensuring your children follow a healthy diet and are physically active can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating foods that are low in calories and fat, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains are important for a growing child’s health. If your child is old enough, sign him or her up for a sports or dance team to encourage activity, teamwork skills, and participation.
Children and teens with either type of diabetes may experience the following symptoms:
- Having to urinate frequently
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Cuts and bruises that heal slowly
In type 2 diabetes, the symptoms may be subtle and unnoticeable right away, so an exam and testing performed by a physician can help to confirm or monitor. A simple blood test can diagnose both type 1 and type 2.
Treatments for Diabetes
There is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes. Those with type 1 diabetes must follow a diabetic-friendly diet, monitor their blood sugar, and may need to take insulin every day.
Those with type 2 diabetes can control the disease with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. For more serious cases of Type 2, oral medication or insulin may be required.
A diabetes diagnosis is overwhelming, but it is also manageable. With education and support, children and teens with diabetes can live healthy lives, and early detection is the key to effectively managing diabetes. For more information on diabetes or to schedule a check-up for your child, please contact us today.