It may be a very worrying time for everyone involved if you have a child that develops diabetes but there is no real cause for concern if the relevant action is taken to safeguard him / her against further risk.
When it comes to children and diabetes, type 1 is most common with the total amount of cases coming to 90 – 95%, in people under the age of 16, but there are some experts who aren’t entirely what the cause might be.
What causes Type 1 Diabetes?
That is a very good question because there are distinct differences between what leads to people developing type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Basically, type 1 develops because the pancreas is unable to produce insulin and it has been listed as a type of autoimmune disease (which is something that attacks body tissue and/or organs).
Trying to establish the presence of diabetes can be difficult (it is a known fact that thousands of people each year who suffer from the condition but aren’t even aware of it) and therefore it is important to recognise the symptoms so that appropriate medical treatment can be received.
Some of the symptoms listed above are common for anyone with diabetes, but there are a few specific issues that are much more likely to occur in children alone:
· Constantly thirsty
· Frequently feeling tired
· Urinating regularly (especially at night)
· Losing weight unexpectedly
· Headaches – this symptom is more likely to occur in children
· Stomach aches – again, this is much more likely to affect children
If your child is displaying one or more of the above symptoms then it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible, in order to start managing the condition with minimal disruption.
What happens next?
If diabetes is diagnosed then you may be wondering exactly what happens next. Well, first your doctor might suggest a number of different ways to work at keeping the problem under control and these could include:
- Exercising more (this could be anything from walking to running, and cycling to swimming. 30 minutes per day is currently the recommended amount of time)
- Having a healthy and balanced diet (ensure that there is also a number of foods which provide key amounts of carbohydrates)
- Ensuring that blood sugar levels are monitored regularly
- In cases of type 1 diabetes, regular insulin injections will be required but the number will entirely depend on the individual
There is so much that can be done and there is guidance available (should be required), however, as a parent it is also possible for you to get involved and help your child in so many different ways.
How can I help my child?
It doesn’t matter how old or young a child might be, there are definitely going to be times when they will require your help. However, you might be wondering exactly how you can be of assistance. Don’t worry, everything you will do (as listed below) is designed to help a child as much as possible, and this will make the process much easier in time.
- Your diabetes team will show how insulin injections should be administered and this will be handy as you will then have the knowledge of exactly how they should be done
- Especially in cases of really young children, you will need to regularly monitor blood sugar readings to ensure that they are not too low or too high and if they are, appropriate action can then be taken
- Make sure that the school, friends and possibly even other parents are aware of the problem so if an incident were to occur, the relevant action can be taken
- Ensure that there is always a steady supply of insulin available
- Become familiar with the signs of a child that is suffering from a low blood sugar level
Top tip: When it comes to injecting insulin and taken glucose readings, once your son / daughter is old enough then it is ideal to teach him / her how to do it themselves so that they have an understanding of the correct methods.
Ensure all relevant parties are aware of the problem
When it comes to children and diabetes, it is vital that you ensure all relevant people are informed of the situation so that there is no delay in necessary treatment being administered, if it is required.
This could vary from person to person but the list below should give you an idea of the people / organisations that should be made aware of a condition such as diabetes:
- Playschool / nursery
- Friends of the child
- Relatives who the child might stay with
- Other parents
- Childminder / baby-sitter
- Organisers of out of school activities
Anyone will understand exactly how worrying it can be when a child is diagnosed with diabetes, but there are plenty of organisations and other sources that will work at providing honest and equally reliable advice when it comes to dealing with this condition.
The good news is, as a child starts to become familiar with the methods of managing his / her diabetes then it will become part of a regular routine that will soon become second nature. Just remember that as long as the necessary treatment is administered, there is not going to be any major problems, both now and in future.