Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1 Diabetes) usually develops suddenly in children and teenagers and makes them dependent for life on injected or pumped Insulin. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Therefore, people with this condition can’t make insulin, a hormone that changes food into a sugar called glucose. Insulin allows glucose to enter all the cells of the body, where it is used for energy. Without insulin, glucose (or sugar) builds up in the blood and can damage the internal organs of the body, the nervous system, and the blood vessels.
Although insulin treatment is necessary to keep living, it does not cure the disease. In fact, the daily food intake has to be balanced with the daily insulin doses. Possible complications of therapy include:
- blood sugar level going too low
- physical activity
- fatigue, or weakness
Key warning signs of juvenile diabetes include;
- increased appetite
- extreme thirst
- frequent urination
- unexplained weight loss
- vision changes
- lethargy (sleepiness)
- fruity odor on the breath
Affected persons have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, high blood pressure, nerve damage, blood vessel disease, and gum disease. However, their risk of complications can be greatly reduced by taking their insulin regularly as prescribed, keeping their blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, and not smoking. With diabetes, it’s important to remember that CONTROL MATTERS.
More information on diabetes is provided in our Diabetes Section, and our Diabetes Tip Sheet.