Of all the diseases affecting young people, childhood diabetes is one of the most common. This is a serious condition that affects children all over the world, but great advances in medical treatments allow young diabetics lead more normal, comfortable lives. On average, 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year. About 13,000 of these new cases are children.
Broken down, that's 36 children every day that are diagnosed. Type I Childhood Diabetes Most diabetic children have Type I diabetes, commonly known as "juvenile" or "childhood diabetes". This condition is present at birth and prevents the body from producing insulin.
Many people born with childhood diabetes are not diagnosed until adolescence. Children and teens with the condition must learn about the proper treatment methods. Warning Signs A diabetic attack can happen suddenly, even when the disease has yet to be diagnosed. That's why it's so important that parents can recognize the warning signs. Without proper treatment, these attacks can have long-lasting consequences and, in extreme cases, may cause death. Signs and symptoms of juvenile diabetes include extreme thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite or weight loss, sleepiness, labored breathing, sudden changes in vision and a sweet, fruity smell to the breath.
Knowing the warning signs is the first step to saving a life. Childhood diabetes is easily mistaken as other illnesses. Never assume, and seek immediate care if you notice that your child shows one or more of these symptoms. See your doctor and insist that your son or daughter be tested for diabetes. Failure to diagnose childhood diabetes can have awful consequences. However, if the condition doesn't run in your family, you may not automatically identify the need to know all the symptoms.
There are three main symptoms of childhood diabetes to keep in mind at all times: thirst, frequent urination, and blood glucose levels. If your child seems unusually thirsty, makes frequent trips to the bathroom or shows both of these signs, his or her blood sugar may be high. Children that appear to be overly sleepy or lethargic, feel "clammy" or just seem "off" can benefit from a trip to the doctor for a simple blood or urine test. Your family doctor or pediatrician may evaluate your child for other conditions as well, but it's important to rule out the possibility of childhood diabetes. If the condition goes undiagnosed and an attack occurs, you will be faced with sorting things out in an emergency situation.
Health Risks of Childhood Diabetes The diagnosis of childhood diabetes brings to light a long list of potential health problems that may affect your child. Where blood sugar levels are low, your child may suffer from vision problems, kidney and liver problems and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. On the other hand, persistent high blood sugar levels can increase the possibility of infection (like an abscessed tooth or yeast infection), wounds that won't heal, gangrene from infected wounds and a host of other ailments. There may be nerve damage to the feet or other extremities. The result is intense pain and irreversible damage. As you can see, childhood diabetes presents some very grown-up concerns.
Ask your doctor to perform a blood screening. If your child is diagnosed, follow the treatment instructions carefully to help ensure the happy and healthy life that he or she deserves.
Writer Sterling Ostin contributes to several popular Internet sites, on healthy kid and health diet fitness subjects.