What is Juvenile Diabetes?
Juvenile diabetes is also known as type 1 diabetes, as it usually begins in childhood and is associated with the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. Diabetes is a biochemical disorder which affects the body's ability to use carbohydrates, sugars and starches. Children with diabetes are not able to produce sufficient insulin or are unable to use the insulin they produce effectively enough to break down glucose or sugar in the blood and make it available to the body. Children with type 1 diabetes are also called insulin-dependent because they have to take insulin for life.
Type 2 diabetes is often called adult onset diabetes, which usually occurs after the age of 40. However, this distinction is increasingly becoming blurred as more and more children develop type 2 diabetes due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle. While type 2 diabetes was previously almost unheard of in childhood, it is now becoming more common amongst children. Children with type 2 diabetes do produce insulin in the pancreas, but their bodies cannot use it efficiently. Children with type 2 diabetes therefore need diabetes medication or extra insulin to help their bodies use their own insulin better.
Diagnosing Juvenile Diabetes?
Juvenile diabetes must be diagnosed by a medical doctor, endocrinologist, homeopath or naturopath. If you are at all concerned about whether your child has diabetes, especially if he or she is overweight and has a family history of diabetes, please seek medical advice.
Juvenile diabetes is diagnosed quite simply by measuring the levels of glucose in the blood and so a blood test is usually necessary to make a confirmed diagnosis. If a random blood glucose reading is raised, more in depth blood tests may be performed to monitor the body’s response to a glucose load.
Symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes
- Frequent and excessive urination
- Always thirsty
- Chronic fatigue, lethargy and weakness
- Cuts and wounds that don’t seem to heal normally
- Weight loss without dieting
- Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
- Recurring infections, especially urinary tract infections, thrush and athletes foot
- Blurred vision
What Causes Juvenile Diabetes
There are no clear answers about the cause of juvenile diabetes. Some theorists believe that juvenile diabetes may be an auto-immune response or that it could be caused by a virus.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not caused by obesity alone or by consuming excessive sugar (although type 2 has a stronger correlation than type 1). However, the prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 is higher than almost all other chronic childhood diseases and tends to be genetic.
Help for Juvenile Diabetes
Treatment depends on a number of factors, including the signs and symptoms, severity and age. Most treatment regimes include lifestyle changes, medicinal treatment, (either allopathic medication, natural remedies or both) as well as close monitoring of blood glucose levels.
Children with juvenile diabetes no longer produce insulin, and therefore must have an alternate source of insulin to help the body utilize the glucose obtained from eating. For this reason, children with type 1 diabetes must give themselves daily doses of insulin. Because insulin is a protein, it cannot be taken as a pill, as it is then quickly broken down in the stomach acids. Instead, insulin is usually injected into the fat under the skin. Methods of insulin intake vary and may include using an insulin pump, insulin pen, jet injector or insulin patch.
Diet is a very important aspect in the treatment of juvenile diabetes. A long-term change in eating habits that ensures the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is essential. Portion control and eating at regular intervals during the day is also important. Losing excess weight also helps the body to use the insulin and regulate blood sugar more efficiently. Vitamins, minerals and other nutritional substances are also all important building blocks of systemic health.
Natural remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. In more recent times, research has confirmed this traditional wisdom and there are now many published clinical studies demonstrating the ability of a range of herbs to support the endocrine system and pancreatic health and to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Gymnema sylvestre has been shown to be helpful in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels within the normal range. Studies have suggested that Galega officinalis may help to support the maintenance of balanced glucose in the bloodstream. Chromium Picolinate is a mineral supplement and highly absorbable nutritional form of chromium - an essential nutrient for sugar and fat metabolism.
Bilberry has excellent anti-oxidant properties due to high levels of anthocyanosides, further increasing the supportive health benefits of this remarkable herb. Regular use of Bilberry helps to support healthy vision as well as the health of the tiny blood capillaries which carry oxygen to the eyes, which are often affected by diabetes.