How to manage Type 1 Diabetes in Children

Diabetes Type 1 management in children

Type 1 Diabetes is a form of diabetes mellitus characterized by abnormally high blood sugar levels. The disease is a result of autoimmune biomechanisms of the body towards beta cells of the pancreas.

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Pancreatic cells cease from producing insulin as a result, hampering glucose uptake from the bloodstream to the liver as would happen in a normal human body. 

Even though there has not been a specifically identified cause for Type 1 Diabetes, scientists have attributed the development of the disease to some genetic and environmental factors. 

Type 1 Diabetes risk factors

Genetics – Children whose parents and/or siblings suffer from the disease may have a high susceptibility to Type 1 Diabetes.

Parents – Although research on this is scanty, some have indeed established connections between the age and lifestyle of a parent to Type 1 Diabetes. 

InfectionViruses like Enterovirus, Rotavirus, and Cytomegalovirus have been established to have secondary risks in development of Type 1 Diabetes

Diet – Diabetes is as a result of too much glucose content in the bloodstream, and the consumption of carbohydrates in huge portions may result in development of Diabetes Type 1

Symptoms and diagnosis

Type 1 Diabetes is most prevalent among children, and gets diagnosed around the ages of 4-7. Adults too are susceptible to the disease but the diagnosis will most probably be done earlier in younger ages.

Diagnosis entails collection of blood samples, checking of urine contents, and observation of the child’s medical history. The three blood tests used in diagnosis are A1C hemoglobin test, random blood sugar, and fasting blood sugar.

A1C Hemoglobin Test

Blood samples are collected and checked for content of sugar-coated blood proteins (hemoglobin). Blood with glycated hemoglobin of over 6.5 indicates high blood sugar. This method shows blood sugar levels over a long time of 2-3 months, indicating lengthy prevalence of Type 1 Diabetes.

Random blood sugar test 

Patients are tested for overall glucose content in the bloodstream. Blood samples are collected at a random time of the day, and then tests are carried out. Results of more than 200 mg per deciliter indicate an exacerbated prevalence of Type 1 Diabetes.

Fasting blood sugar tests  

Blood samples are collected from patients who have abstained from any food substance for over 8 hours . It could be done during the day, but mostly done after a night’s sleep for convenience. Similar results of over 200 mg/dl indicate high blood sugar.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Blood sugar tests may be carried out when the child reports any cases of dehydration and urine malfunctioning, in line with the following symptoms;

  • Abnormal feelings of thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • A fruity mouth odor
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Mood swings and irritability

Parents should seek immediate medical attention should these symptoms persist in their children.

Treatment management of Type 1 Diabetes

Patients (children) with Type 1 Diabetes will seek to either increase insulin levels in the bloodstream, or eliminate high glucose levels from the body. Type 1 Diabetes has no cure, and the only solutions available only neutralize the effects of autoimmune reactions in the pancreas. Some of those solutions include insulin supplementation, regular monitoring of blood sugar, aerobic exercises, and diet management.

  1.  Insulin Supplementation

The body acts against pancreatic islet cells, hampering the production and release of insulin hormones into the bloodstream. The number one control mechanism is therefore the introduction of supplementary insulin into the bloodstream. There are basically three modes of insulin administration; use of syringes, insulin pump, and inhalation of insulin.

  1. Syringes – special insulin administration pens contain a needle at the edge to administer insulin on the basis of need. 
  2. Insulin pump – the pump is attached to the body, and on the basis of need, small, scheduled amounts of insulin are gradually introduced into the bloodstream. Insulin pumps administer rapid-acting insulin throughout the day in reaction to glucose fluctuations in the bloodstream.
  3. Insulin inhalers – this type of insulin administration is done nasally, whereby the patient breathes in insulin from the inhaler through the mouth. Inhaled insulin is rapid-acting, and is often taken occasionally before meals. 

Insulin administration is hectic so to say. Patients often find it difficult sticking to syringes, pumps, or inhaler schedules, and to control the amount of insulin taken in. The challenge becomes heavier with children, as they have to learn to administer insulin by themselves while guardians are absent. For this reason, parents prefer alternative methods of Diabetes Type 1 management.

2. Diet Management

Diabetes (all forms) is sometimes referred to as a lifestyle disease, which is caused by lifestyles and is mitigated by changing lifestyle. The onset of Type 1 Diabetes implies a very high blood sugar level, and thus sugar consumption must be controlled according to the body requirements. Sugar consumption is also controlled with considerations of the uptake of insulin, such that the child will only take sugar when they have received insulin supplementation. 

The onset of type1 diabetes is also not the end of any type of food. Patients are only advised to be more conscious of what they eat versus the amount of insulin present in the body. In addition, added sugar is sometimes considered harmful.

3. Aerobic exercises

Exercises are not all good for diabetic patients. The aim here is not to burn calories but to make use of additional glucose in the bloodstream. Sometimes, so much glucose may be lost in a patient, and they end up again suffering from low blood sugar.

As for children, exercises may be a little light according to their weight. Jogging, cycling, and dancing are some of the exercises a child can perform to offset high blood sugar.

4. Glucose monitoring – Methods

Continuous glucose monitoring entails the implantation of a monitor beneath the skin. Blood sugar tests are conducted automatically in every few minutes, and the information relayed in other platforms and devices e.g smart phones.

Close loop system entails regular (per minutes) blood sugar testing, and in addition an insulin pump is attached to deliver insulin shots. Intake of insulin is controlled by the level of blood sugar as tested by the monitor.

Blood glucose meter makes use of test strips to collect blood samples and use in the meter to read blood sugar levels. Readings are recorded in a log for enhanced monitoring.

The above three methods are difficult for school going children. Meters will get lost, pumps risk destruction, and they may not be able to record every measurement on their own. Such are the challenges that come with Type 1 Diabetes among children than adults.


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