What is juvenile diabetes?
Juvenile diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. The far more common type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin.
Various factors may contribute to type 1 diabetes, including genetics and exposure to certain viruses. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it also can begin in adults.
Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. But it can be managed. With proper treatment, people with type 1 diabetes can expect to live longer, healthier lives than did people with type 1 diabetes in the past.
How common is juvenile diabetes?
Juvenile diabetes can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of juvenile diabetes?
The common symptoms of juvenile diabetes are:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bedwetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed during the night
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Irritability and other mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- In females, a vaginal yeast infection
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes juvenile diabetes?
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. In most people with type 1 diabetes, the body’s own immune system – which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses – mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Once a significant number of islet cells are destroyed, you’ll produce little or no insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, there’s no insulin to let glucose into the cells, so sugar builds up in your bloodstream, where it can cause life-threatening complications.
Genetics may play a role in this process, and exposure to certain environmental factors, such as viruses, may trigger the disease.
The cause of type 1 diabetes is different from the cause of the more familiar type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the islet cells are still functioning, but the body becomes resistant to insulin or the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or both.
What increases my risk for juvenile diabetes?
There are many risk factors for juvenile diabetes, such as:
- Family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
- The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
- The incidence of type 1 diabetes tends to increase as you travel away from the equator. People living in Finland and Sardinia have the highest incidence of type 1 diabetes – about two to three times higher than rates in the United States and 400 times the incidence among people living in Venezuela.
- Although type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, it appears at two noticeable peaks. The first peak occurs in children between 4 and 7 years old, and the second is in children between 10 and 14 years old.
Many other possible risk factors for type 1 diabetes have been investigated, though none have been proved. Some other possible risk factors include:
- Exposure to certain viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, Coxsackie virus, mumps virus and cytomegalovirus
- Early exposure to cow’s milk
- Low vitamin D levels
- Drinking water that contains nitrates
- Early (before 4 months) or late (after 7 months) introduction of cereal and gluten into a baby’s diet
- Having a mother who had preeclampsia during pregnancy
- Being born with jaundice
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is juvenile diabetes diagnosed?
To diagnose type 1 diabetes, your doctor will ask for a:
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test
This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It works by measuring the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells.
Random blood sugar test
A blood sample will be taken at a random time. Regardless of when you last ate, a random blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher suggests diabetes, especially when coupled with any of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, such as frequent urination and extreme thirst.
Fasting blood sugar test
A blood sample will be taken after an overnight fast. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes.
If you receive a diagnosis of diabetes, your doctor will also run blood tests to check for autoantibodies that are common in type 1 diabetes. These tests help your doctor distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The presence of ketones — byproducts from the breakdown of fat — in your urine also suggests type 1 diabetes, rather than type 2.
In addition to the A1C test, the doctor will also take blood and urine samples periodically to check your cholesterol levels, thyroid function, liver function and kidney function. The doctor will also examine you to assess your blood pressure, and he or she will check the sites where you test your blood sugar and deliver insulin.
How is juvenile diabetes treated?
Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes:
- Taking insulin
- Carbohydrate counting
- Frequent blood sugar monitoring
- Eating healthy foods
- Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight
The goal is to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible to delay or prevent complications. Although there are exceptions, generally, the goal is to keep your daytime blood sugar levels before meals between 70 and 130 mg/dL (3.9 to 7.2 mmol/L) and your after meal numbers no higher than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L) two hours after eating.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage juvenile diabetes?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with juvenile diabetes:
- Make a commitment to managing your diabetes. Take your medications as recommended. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine.
- Identify yourself. Wear a tag or bracelet that says you have diabetes. Keep a glucagon kit nearby in case of a low blood sugar emergency — and make sure your friends and loved ones know how to use it.
- Schedule a yearly physical exam and regular eye exams. Your regular diabetes checkups aren’t meant to replace yearly physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications, as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.
- Keep your immunizations up to date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year. Your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends hepatitis B vaccination if you haven’t previously been vaccinated against hepatitis B and you’re an adult ages 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you’re age 60 or older and have diabetes and haven’t previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.
- Pay attention to your feet. Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Dry them gently, especially between the toes. Moisturize your feet with lotion. Check your feet every day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness or swelling. Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that doesn’t heal.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Medication may be needed, too.
- If you smoke or use other forms of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of diabetes complications, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage and kidney disease. In fact, smokers who have diabetes are three times more likely to die prematurely than are nonsmokers who have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
- If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Alcohol can cause either high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and if you eat at the same time. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation and always with a meal. And be sure to check your blood sugar levels before going to sleep.
- Take stress seriously. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which can stress and frustrate you even more.
- Take a step back and set some limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Type 1 Diabetes. http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-1-diabetes-guide/type-1-diabetes#1. Accessed 26 Feb 2017.
Type 1 diabetes. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/basics/definition/con-20019573. Accessed 26 Feb 2017.
Review Date: February 26, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019