Type 1 diabetes is more common in children and adolescents, but there has been a recent rise in children and adolescents with Type 2 diabetes. Although the signs and symptoms are the same, they are caused by two different factors.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the pancreas to stop producing insulin, which is an autoimmune condition. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to get energy from food. The onset has nothing to do with diet and lifestyle.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. With Type 2 diabetes your pancreas makes insulin but it is not used properly. This condition is known as insulin resistance. Your pancreas has to make extra insulin to keep up but overtime it is unable to keep up.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination - young children may have bed wetting
- Mood changes- being irritable
- Increased hunger
- Unexpected weight loss
- Slow-healing cuts or sores
- Extreme drowsiness or sleeping more than usual
- Vision changes
- Fruity or sweet smelling breath
Call your child’s doctor even if you are unsure about the symptoms your child may be experiencing. Best to be safe than sorry!
Myths and Facts
Living with diabetes is very challenging, not just for the person with diabetes but for the whole family. Getting the facts from medical professionals experienced in treatment of diabetes will be beneficial in overcoming these challenges. The most common question is “how did I or my child develop diabetes?”
Parents of children with diabetes often blame themselves and some may worry that if they have diabetes, they will pass it on to their children. Unlike some traits, diabetes does not seem to be inherited in a simple pattern. The unknown causes fosters many myths as to the what, why and how's.
Myths and Facts About Type 1 Diabetes
- Myth: Type 1 diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar or being obese.
- Fact: Sugar consumption or weight has nothing to do with the onset of Type 1 diabetes. Scientists believe that both genetic and environmental factors are involved, but the exact triggers are not known.
- Myth: Only children can develop Type 1 diabetes.
- Fact: Type 1 diabetes was formerly called “juvenile diabetes,” but you can develop it at any age. It is regularly diagnosed in teens, young adults and adults.
- Myth: People with diabetes can't or shouldn't eat sugar or sweets.
- Fact: Limiting intake of sugar and sweets can be part of a healthy diet. People with Type 1 diabetes can work sugars and sweets into their diet just like someone who does not have Type 1 diabetes.
- Myth: Type 1 diabetes is contagious.
- Fact: Type 1 diabetes is not contagious; it can’t spread from one person to another. Families with a history of autoimmune disease may have more than one family member with Type 1 diabetes.
- Myth: Women with Type 1 diabetes shouldn't get pregnant.
- Fact: Women with Type 1 diabetes regularly have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies with planning and support.
- Myth: People with Type 1 diabetes will go blind, have their legs amputated and have kidney failure.
- Fact: Some people with Type 1 diabetes may be predisposed to complications because of their gene traits. Many people live for decades without any complications. Optimal control of blood sugar is proven to significantly lower the risk of complications.
- Myth: You can cure Type 1 diabetes with diet and exercise.
- Fact: There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes at this time. Healthy eating, exercise and the proper amount of insulin will help people with Type 1 diabetes maintain better blood glucose control.
It is no surprise that being told that your child has diabetes is devastating. You blame yourself, you are sad for your child and you wonder how you’re going to handle everything that needs to be done.
I say this with true sincerity from my own experience the one thing that your child wants to hear from you is that everything is going to be okay. How you react will determine how your child will adapt. Always try to do everything possible to help them experience life at its fullest with their diabetes and not let their diabetes define them or control their life.