What is Juvenile Diabetes?
Juvenile diabetes, is a name formerly applied to define what is now referred to as type 1 diabetes. It’s a condition in which the body is unable to control blood sugar levels.
In the past, this form of diabetes was believed to be a childhood disease, hence the name juvenile. Years later it was discovered the condition could, in fact, develop in adults as well.
A defect in the autoimmune system prompts juvenile diabetes in children. However, it still remains unknown the exact circumstances for development within adults.
Juvenile or type 1 diabetes is not as prevalent as type 2. In fact, only around five percent will be affected by this strain of the condition. (1)
Although they both stem from the diabetes “tree”, type 1 and 2 have significant differences.
Type 2 diabetes affects more than 30 million Americans. This form influences how the body responds to insulin, the vital hormone used to regulate blood sugars. (2)
The cells will merely stop acknowledging insulin produced in the body which eventually causes damage to the insulin-producing organ, pancreas.
Whereas juvenile diabetes or type 1, is a chronic autoimmune disease. The body will attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas until nothing is left. Rendering the child dependent on insulin from external sources.
Insulin is an essential hormone. Without it, glucose (sugar) in food, the primary fuel for energy, remains in the blood. This causes a buildup and a series of symptoms.
The cells convert glucose into energy for the body, but without insulin, sugar can’t get through and is left in the bloodstream.
Symptoms may come on gradually and might not be prominent at first. They can include: (3)
Children and adults alike will often feel a need to urinate more frequently. It is an early sign of rejection or interference with the production of insulin.
At first, the kidneys are able to process most of the glucose. This can only be sustained up to a certain point, upon reaching a limit, sugar will leak through to the bladder.
Sugar will deplete the bladder of fluids, causing excess quantities of urine. Therefore it empties more frequently.
This is a follow-up symptom of the latter. Your child may often exhibit an unusual thirst which is not easily quenched.
As sugars are draining the bladder of fluids, your body becomes prone to dehydration which triggers excessive thirst. (5)
Upon intake of more fluids, the bladder will produce extra urine, triggering urination; thus repeating the cycle.
A child with diabetes may often encounter this symptom. It is not a need to sleep, rather a pervasive feeling of fatigue. This can be distressing for parents when it occurs on a daily basis.
Fatigue can be classified as either peripheral or central. One is believed to be a result of physical exhaustion. Whereas, the latter is a defect within the motivational part of the brain and is essential for any type of activity. (6)
Both parties can be a result of changes in blood sugar.
Numbness or Tingling in Hands and Feet
Numbness or tingling in hands or feet may be a sign of nerve damage.
High levels of blood glucose can harm nerves over time, this is called diabetic neuropathy. (7)
Different types present with distinctive symptoms depending on which nerves are affected. When numbness is felt in the hands and feet it’s generally classified as peripheral neuropathy. (8)
When damage is apparent, it can affect mobility in these parts.
Deep Rapid Breathing
Deep, rapid breathing or hyperventilation can be a critical symptom indicating blood glucose is too high.
When blood glucose is excessively high, it will trigger an acidic reaction called metabolic acidosis. This will stimulate chemical sensors in the peripheral nerves, inducing hyperventilation. (9)
Dry Skin and Mouth
Dry skin and mouth can be another sign of uncontrolled blood glucose.
Sugar has an effect of drawing fluids towards the kidneys and subsequently the bladder, depleting the skin and tissues of much-needed moisture. This will lead to dry skin. (10)
The lack of fluids will also affect the salivary glands which are now unable to produce adequate amounts, resulting in dryness of the mouth.
Unusual Breath Odor
This is a red flag sign of diabetic ketoacidosis and medical care should be sought immediately. (11)
It’s encountered when blood sugars are excessively high and may present as a fruity or acetone smell. It might not be evident to the affected, but it’s often unmistakable for bypassers. (12)
Nausea and/or Vomiting
Juvenile diabetes can be a devastating diagnosis for parents. For years doctors and experts have ruled it as an unpredictable disease.
Research has since been funded to find ways of diagnosing the condition before it’s too severe. In fact studies have found it can be traced back to as early as infancy, although it is still unknown how to prevent it. (14)
Staging is laid out across five classifications which explain destruction of the pancreas and insulin-producing cells, called beta cells (b-cell). (15)
Autoimmune responses are gradually beginning to slow down the production of b-cells. Levels are still within normal range, yet the pancreas is working harder to compensate.
A progressive reduction has become apparent which leads to an increase of glucose. Levels, however, remain within the limit, which means no apparent signs of diabetes are present.
The amount of glucose in the blood rises rapidly as a sudden decline in pancreatic functions occur.
This stage is considered pre-diagnostic for juvenile diabetes. Destruction of the pancreas results in an almost unavoidable outcome. It is during this stage most children are diagnosed.
The pancreas has stopped total production of insulin and the patient now requires regular insulin administration.
Those affected by juvenile diabetes will be dependent on daily doses of insulin to keep levels of blood glucose under control.
Parents are likely to work closely with doctors to help manage and prevent possible complications.
Juvenile or type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin supplements to ensure the survival of the patient. (17)
Insulin can be applied in different ways. However, it’s generally done using a small needle or syringe.
The dosage given should be modified in certain situations, for example when exercising, during illness and at times when your child eats fewer or more calories. However, your doctor will help to ensure the right amount is administered. (18)
When your child has diabetes, it is essential to keep track of their blood glucose level so you can quickly detect changes and prevent progression.
It is also a good idea to serve wholesome foods and keep your child active if possible. Exercise can help prevent long term complications as well as keeping kids healthy and happy. (19)
What is juvenile diabetes? Juvenile diabetes is a former term for type 1 diabetes. It’s a condition where the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels naturally.
What are the signs of juvenile diabetes? Symptoms depend on the severity of the disease. Early signs can include frequent urination, thirst, fatigue. While more severe indications can involve hyperventilation, dry skin and an unusual odor of the breath.
How do you develop juvenile diabetes? It’s believed to be a defect in the genes which causes an autoimmune response, attacking the pancreas. However, some people have shown to hold these genes without developing diabetes. Therefore exactly how and why it emerges remains inconclusive. (20)
How are you diagnosed for juvenile diabetes? Juvenile diabetes is diagnosed through blood tests which show the level of glucose and other characteristics, such as b-cell count. (21)
What is the best treatment for juvenile diabetes? Juvenile diabetes is treated with insulin. A healthy diet and active lifestyle can also help manage it, but is only a support alongside medication.
What are the long term complications of juvenile diabetes? Over time diabetes may weaken the heart, damage blood vessels and cause blindness. It can also cause nerve impairment which can lead to disabilities. (22)
Is juvenile diabetes considered a disability? The disease itself is not a disability, but nerve damage can occur which may lead to partial disabilities. (23)
Is there any cure for juvenile diabetes? Juvenile diabetes is a chronic disease which can only be managed.
Is juvenile diabetes life threatening? Yes, if blood glucose remains uncontrolled or if it’s suppressed it could lead to either hyper or hypoglycemia. These can both reach life threatening levels fast.
Juvenile or type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune illness in which the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells. This results in dependence of vital hormones.
It’s generally diagnosed during childhood and was for many years ruled as a child’s disease. Later, research discovered that it could, in fact, also have an onset during adult years. This gives a second thought to the theory it only occurs due to genetics.
For parents, it can be a difficult diagnosis, but fortunately, modern medicine has advanced and outcomes have become a lot brighter. With the right treatment and management children are able to live normal lives.