Resulting from an autoimmune destruction of the B cells of the pancreas, Juvenile Diabetes has also been known as juvenile diabetes mellitus and is now frequently referred to as Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. Juvenile Diabetes is a syndrome (a group of symptoms characterizing the disease) with malfunctioning metabolism and excessively high blood glucose levels that are the results of insufficient amounts of insulin or the body’s inability to use the insulin effectively. Juvenile Diabetes is prone to run in families as siblings of a patient with Juvenile Diabetes have one hundred or more times greater risk of developing the syndrome then children who come from families whose members have not been affected.
The Metabolic Process
A percentage of the food that is ingested is broken down and converted to glucose (sugar) which is then dispersed into the bloodstream and conveyed by insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas) into the cells of the body. Under normal and healthy circumstances, the pancreas produces the exact amount of insulin that is needed to metabolize the glucose present in the body. However, in patients with Juvenile Diabetes, one or both of the following occurs: (a) the pancreas produces either not enough insulin or none at all; or (b) the body cells respond abnormally to the insulin produced by the pancreas. In both cases the glucose accumulates in the bloodstream, spreads out into the intestines and the bladder and then leaves the body unutilized in the urine.
Possible Complications Resulting from Juvenile Diabetes
Among all other chronic diseases of childhood years, the risk of Juvenile Diabetes is the highest and when it is left untreated or poorly controlled, it can cause the following serious and irreparable damages:
- The Eyes. In due course, the arteries in the retina get weak and begin leaking to form small hemorrhages as parts of the retina are deprived of oxygenation. In advanced stages, the condition worsens and may lead to retinal detachment, glaucoma and blindness.
- Blood Vessels. Damage and blockage of the blood vessels increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Nervous System. Impairment to the nervous system can result in foot ulcers, impotence and an assortment of digestive disorders.
- Kidneys. Disruption and disturbances of kidneys’ functions can ultimately lead to their failure.
Typical Symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes
Depending on the severity of the case and on the individual, the symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes may vary but they are typically as follows:
- Intense thirst and endless craving for food.
- Rapid weight loss for no apparent reasons.
- Frequent and urgent urination during the day and at night.
- Constant fatigue and great weakness leading to drowsiness and lethargy.
- Blurred or cloudy vision.
- Tingling sensations and numbness of the extremities (hands and feet).
- Breathing difficulties.
- A fruit-like odor in the breath.
Treatment of Juvenile Diabetes
Treating Juvenile Diabetes with great deal of care and diligence is of utmost importance and the treatments include:
- Insulin injections.
- Low carbohydrate, low sugar and low fat diets.
- Regular exercise routines.
- Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels.