Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease. In people with type 1 diabetes, cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed, and the body is unable to make insulin.
Type 1 diabetes in children is a condition in which your child’s body no longer produces an important hormone (insulin). Your child needs insulin to survive, so the missing insulin needs to be replaced with injections or with an insulin pump. Type 1 diabetes in children used to be known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.
The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in children can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning. Suddenly you and your child — depending on his or her age — must learn how to give injections, count carbohydrates, and monitor blood sugar.
There’s no cure for type 1 diabetes in children, but it can be managed. Advances in blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery have improved blood sugar management and quality of life for children with type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes
The following are symptoms of type 1 diabetes:
- excessive hunger
- excessive thirst
- blurred vision
- frequent urination
- dramatic weight loss in a short period of time
A person might also develop ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes. Symptoms of this condition include:
- rapid breathing
- dry skin and mouth
- flushed face
- fruity breath odor
- vomiting or stomach pain
Causes of Type 1 Diabetes
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. But in most people with type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role in this process.
Once the islet cells of the pancreas are destroyed, your child produces little or no insulin. Insulin performs the critical job of moving sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream to the body’s cells. Sugar enters the bloodstream when food is digested.
Without enough insulin, sugar builds up in your child’s bloodstream, where it can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated.
When to see a doctor
See your child’s doctor if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of type 1 diabetes.