While many diabetics lead regular lives, it is not a disease that should go unnoticed or untreated. In children, diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death by diseases; one out of every three children born today will have diabetes in their lifetime, according to The Children's Diabetes Foundation.

Each year over 13,000 children are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in school age children and is most often Type 1. Type 1 diabetes requires the child to take insulin, most commonly through injection or pump.

Recognizing the symptoms for Type I is very important. Symptoms include:

  • increased thirst

  • increased urination

  • extreme fatigue

  • blurry vision

  • weight loss despite extreme hunger

  • extreme irritability

  • weakness

  • nausea

  • vomiting

Type 2 develops when the body is not producing enough insulin or is not using it properly; usually this type is managed with oral medications and a strict diet. The symptoms for Type 2 are much the same as Type 1 and the difference can be a fuzzy area. The symptoms are not always as severe as Type 1 and can often go undetected for years.

Diagnosis and control of diabetes are extremely important because this disease can cause additional health complications.

  • It can affect vision and is the leading cause of blindness in 20 to 74-year-olds.

  • It can cause kidney damage and problems.

  • It can cause damage to, and hardening of, the arteries.

  • It can cause damage to the nerves in the extremities. Children's Diabetes Foundation

  • Diabetics can develop Ketoacidosis which is a condition where acids build up in the blood and urine because the body does not have enough insulin; it can lead to coma or death.

Proper management will help to minimize the damage that diabetes can do. Management of Type 1 usually includes insulin, exercise, diet, and blood testing. Exercise is very important to control. It helps to maintain a healthy weight; it also decreases the risk of heart problems and can decrease blood sugars. Moderate exercise will decrease blood sugar; however, prolonged vigorous exercise is thought to increase blood sugar. Talk with your doctor about the type of exercise he wants your child to pursue.

In addition to the exercise, your child's diet will need to be monitored. Children should drink plenty of water, especially when involved in physical activity. Meals and snacks should be eaten around the same time every day and should be the same types of food. This consistency helps to maintain blood sugar.

You are not alone in diagnosing and managing your child's diabetes. His doctor can help you maintain his health. The doctor will prescribe an insulin dosage, give you a diet to follow and help you decide what exercises are best for your child. In addition to all of this help, parents must remember that even with their compliance with diet and exercise, it may take several months to see results.

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