In Type I diabetes, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leaves the person with type I diabetes dependent on insulin injections to survive.
Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, but it can occur at any age. Symptoms of type I diabetes include excessive thirst and urination, extreme hunger, and fatigue. Type I diabetes can be challenging to diagnose because these symptoms also occur in other more common conditions such as the stomach flu, urinary tract infections, or stress from an illness or injury.
The Etiology of Type I DM
The cause of type I diabetes is still a puzzle, but scientists believe that it is an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy cells.
Genetics, prenatal development, and the environment might play a role in type I diabetes. Scientists are trying to determine what triggers the disease to take preventive measures.
Type I DM is associated with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene haplotype DRB-1301/150, which may explain why it often occurs in families. However, not everyone with this haplotype develops type I DM, and many people without the haplotype develop the disease. Environmental factors such as cow’s milk protein exposure and viral infections may also play a role in developing type I diabetes.
Treating DM in Kids
Managing diabetes in kids is done with insulin injections. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose (sugar) for energy. There are many different types of insulin, and each one works differently in different people.
The goal of treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. This lowers the risk of diabetes complications.
People should regularly monitor their blood sugar levels with a small glucose meter machine.
The glucometer is used to check for high or low blood sugar levels by testing tiny samples of capillary (the smallest type of blood vessel) blood obtained through pricking the skin surface with a lancet device. A test strip on the glucose meter is then inserted into the machine. The blood sample will react with chemicals in the test strip, and results are displayed on a digital screen or printed out by an internal printer.
Every time you check your blood sugar levels, write down what they were so that you can share them with doctors at appointments to track their effectiveness of treatment. Three primary blood sugar levels need to be monitored: fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood sugar, and bedtime blood sugar.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends the following target ranges for these levels in children and adolescents:
- Fasting Blood Sugar Level – 70-130 mg/dL
- Post-Meal Blood Sugar Level – Less than 180 mg/dL
- Bedtime blood sugar level- 110-180 mg/dL
Children and adolescents with type I diabetes need to eat a balanced diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat. They also need to take regular exercise, which can help control blood sugar levels.
If blood sugar levels are too high, they can take insulin to reduce it. If blood sugar levels are too low, a source of glucose such as fruit juice or candy may be used until the body can produce enough insulin on its own again. You can always talk to the experts at Tandem Diabetes for more information.