Type 1 diabetes is a disorder that leads to the body not being able to make enough insulin or use insulin normally. This occurs due to the immune system causing damage to the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, before allowing blood sugar into the cells in your body, to use for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar is unable to enter the cells, instead building up in the bloodstream. High blood sugar levels can be damaging to the body and will cause many of the complications and symptoms that are typical of diabetes.
While the exact causes of type 1 diabetes in children are unknown, researchers believe that some people inherit a gene that may cause type 1 diabetes due to certain triggers such as viral infections. Children who are at a higher risk of type 1 diabetes will usually have a family member with the condition.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Type 1 diabetes will often come on quite suddenly. In children, this might include symptoms that appear similar to flu symptoms, although this can be different for each child. They may include high levels of glucose in the urine or blood when tested, dehydration, abnormal levels of thirst, extreme hunger, weight loss, frequent urination, nausea, blurred vision, vomiting, and more. It can be easy to mistake type 1 diabetes for other health conditions in children because of these similarities. If your child is showing any of these symptoms, Making Diabetes Easier has more information for parents. You can find out more about diagnosing and managing diabetes using the informational posts by Making Diabetes Easier.
Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes in Children
If your child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, they will need to have daily insulin injections to ensure that their blood sugar levels are kept within a normal range. Insulin is usually given either by an insulin pump or an injection. You will also need to help your child make some lifestyle changes including eating the right diet to manage the levels of glucose in the blood, regular blood testing to check that blood glucose levels are stable, and testing ketone levels in the urine.
When to Get Emergency Help
If your child has not been yet diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes but they have been showing symptoms of rising blood sugar for some time, they may develop some extreme and perhaps even life-threatening symptoms. You should seek emergency help for your child if you notice symptoms such as laboured breathing or difficulty breathing, vomiting, inability to drink liquids without vomiting, seizures, loss of consciousness, or an inability to stay awake. While it might seem obvious to get emergency help when your child shows these symptoms, the faster you act, the better.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition that can affect both adults and children. In children, the symptoms of this condition can often easily be mistaken for a more common issue like the flu, so it is important for parents to be aware and alert.