India has the largest number of diabetics in the world. Around 6.2 crore people in India suffer from diabetes. Type I Diabetes, earlier called Juvenile Diabetes accounts for 5% of the total cases of Diabetes.
So, What Is Type I Diabetes?
Type I Diabetes also called Juvenile Diabetes refers to diabetes in the young. It usually affects children and people below 20 years of age. It occurs when the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas are damaged. Due to the low insulin levels in the body, the amount of glucose in the blood shoots up. When this happens, glucose can’t get into the cells for energy and remains in the blood stream causing high blood sugar.
What Are The Causes?
The exact cause of type I diabetes is not known. Type 1 or juvenile diabetes is autoimmune in nature.This means that in Type 1 Diabetes, the body’s own immune system, which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses,mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Since the body of these patients lacks the ability to produce insulin, the sugar cannot be sent into the cells.
What Are The Risk factors?
Although there are not many risk factors of diabetes affecting certain kind of people, but some typical ones are:
– Family history: If the parents or even if either of them has diabetes, the child is at an increased risk of developing the disease.
-Genetic factors: The presence of certain types of genes in your body makes it a possibility that the person is at a higher risk.
-An environmental trigger or a virus (any sort of infection or bacteria) may attack the beta cells in the pancreas.
What Are The Symptoms?
The signs and symptoms are quite similar to those of type 1 diabetes. But for kids one needs to be more careful about the symptoms. If you notice anything unusual it is always better to consult a doctor. Some of the most common symptoms are :
Increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections, slow healing wounds,dry mouth, confusion, bed-wetting, heavy and rapid breathing.
How Is It Diagnosed?
To diagnose Type I Diabetes a doctor would check the blood glucose level of the child.It can be measured in the following ways:
-Fasting blood sugar levels: if it is 126 mg/dL or higher on two separate tests, your child will be diagnosed with diabetes.
-Random blood sugar levels : a random blood sugar test is done at any time of the day. a random blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher suggests diabetes
-Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c) Test: This blood test indicates an average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. An HbA1C level of 6.5 %or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes.
How Is Type I Diabetes Treated?
Treatment for type 1 diabetes is a lifelong commitment of blood sugar monitoring, insulin, healthy eating and regular exercise, even for kids. And as your child grows and changes, so will his or her diabetes treatment plan. Management involves:
1 . Insulin therapy
Anyone who has type 1 diabetes needs insulin treatment to survive.
-The doctor would set the dosage depending on the severity of the disease.
-A healthy and nutritious diet and regular exercise is also a very important part of the treatment.
2 . Dietary Changes
Nutrition plays a very important role in managing Type I Diabetes.
-The child should be made to understand about his/her food choices.
-It is advised by doctors that they should try and consume meals at the same time every day.
-Skipping a meal can be dangerous as this may reduce the blood glucose level.
-You can consult a Dietitian who would help you in planning meals for your child.
3 . Physical Activity
Physical activity is also an essential part of diabetes care.
-Encourage your child to get regular physical activity.
-You could sign up for a sports team or dance lessons or else exercise together.
-Play catch in the backyard or walk or run through your neighborhood.
-Take your child for swimming classes.
-Remember that physical activity usually lowers blood sugar, and it can affect blood sugar levels for up to 12 hours after exercise.
-You might need to adjust your child’s meal plan or insulin doses to compensate for the increased activity as advised by your doctor.
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Living with Type 1 Diabetes isn’t easy, neither for the parents for for the child. But with the availability of excellent diabetes management services and latest technological and medical breakthroughs, people with type I Diabetes can live a fuller, happier and healthier life.