Children usually have Type I insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), a chronic metabolic problem that usually begins causing symptoms when kids are about 6-7 years old. Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that occurs in children that have a certain genetic predisposition. It is not yet known what triggers or causes the autoimmune reaction to occur in these kids.
Diabetes is caused by a lack of the hormone insulin. This hormone is necessary for your body to use glucose, a sugar that is used for fuel and energy. Because of the lack of insulin, the sugar level builds up in the blood of a child with diabetes.
The main symptoms of diabetes include polyuria (urinating more frequently than usual), polydipsia (drinking more fluids than usual), polyphagia (eating more than usual), and unexplained weight loss. Parents commonly think that their kids have diabetes because they are drinking more or eating more than they normally do, but if your child is gaining weight normally, then it is unlikely that he has diabetes. If you do suspect that your child is having the above symptoms and he has also lost weight, then you should see you pediatrician who can do a blood or urine test to look for a high sugar level.
Many patients are first found to have diabetes when they have Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which includes having a high sugar and ketone levels in your child's blood and urine and acidosis. These kids are often dehydrated and are usually admitted to the hospital for treatment with intravenous fluids and insulin to slowly lower the sugar and acid levels in the blood.
Treatment for patients with diabetes includes teaching them proper nutrition, how to monitor their blood sugar levels and by the daily use of insulin. Most kids require treatment with a combination of a short acting form of insulin (Regular) and a long acting form (NPH) to help control their blood sugar levels. Older kids and adults may even use an insulin pump to more easily control their symptoms.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many complications during adulthood, including blindness, kidney problems (diabetic nephropathy), and circulation problems. These complications on much less likely to occur in patients with proper treatment, who have good control of their blood sugar levels and who follow a proper diabetic diet.
Endocrinologists are the type of doctors that usually take care of most patients with diabetes, although some Pediatricians may have a special interest or special training in this area too.
Type II diabetics are more common to be overweight adults, but more and more children and adolescents are developing this condition (almost 10% of diabetic children). These kids are overweight, develop their symptoms at an older age than patients with IDDM (usually around 12 years) and may have a positive family history, with type II diabetics who are first or second degree relatives. They will also have the usual diabetic symptoms and they may also have acanthosis nigricans, a skin disorder that commonly occurs in type II DM. At risk kids who are overweight should be tested every few years to make sure that they are not diabetic.
Diabetes Recommended Reading List:
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