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Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetes in Children and Adults

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Diabetes is a serious health condition that occurs due to a malfunctioning of how sugar, or glucose, interacts in the body. While glucose is important in the body, providing life-giving energy and nourishment for the cells, too much of it can negatively impact one’s health.

With diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. Insulin, a naturally occurring hormone, works to convert sugars into energy. However, people with diabetes are unable to properly process sugars, resulting in excess sugar in the bloodstream.

Left untreated, diabetes can cause serious health complications, including organ damage, heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, and kidney failure. However, with proper treatment, many people are able to live healthy lives and avoid many of the problems associated with diabetes.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the key factors to understand about diabetes, the different types, the primary signs and symptoms, and how best to treat diabetes in children and adults. 

Types of Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Here are the key differences and similarities to know.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means the body's defense system mistakenly destroys healthy cells — in this case, pancreatic cells that produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body manage blood sugar (glucose). Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing any insulin at all. 

People with type 1 diabetes often develop symptoms quickly and at a younger age. Otherwise healthy children may experience the sudden onset of type 1 diabetes, without warning. 

Note that type 1 diabetes is not caused by diet or lifestyle factors such as eating too much food or not exercising enough. The only thing that causes it is a malfunctioning immune system — and researchers don't fully understand why this happens yet.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas still makes some insulin but either can't make enough or the body cannot respond to it normally. People with type 2 diabetes may not have symptoms for years or decades. 

In fact, the disease often goes undiagnosed because there are no specific signs or symptoms. The main way people find out they have this condition is during a routine health checkup. A doctor diagnoses it by using medical tests that show how well the body is using insulin and whether you are at risk for developing complications such as blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and foot problems from nerve damage.

Note that the precursor to diabetes is prediabetes, which results when you have high blood sugar but lower than what would be found in someone with diabetes. It’s important to address prediabetes as soon as possible to avoid having the condition evolve into type 2 diabetes.

What Symptoms Can I Expect With Diabetes?

It's important to know the signs of diabetes in children and adults so that you can get treatment right away. The symptoms can vary, depending on a person’s current levels of sugar in the bloodstream. In addition, type 2 symptoms are less severe with a slower onset than type 1 symptoms.

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms to know:

  • Frequent urination. Although this is a common sign of diabetes, it can also be indicative of other health conditions such as a bladder infection or kidney disease. 
  • Extreme hunger or unusual thirst. You may feel unusually hungry or thirsty due to high blood sugar.
  • Blurred vision. Blurred vision is a symptom of diabetes, but it can also be a sign of other conditions. To determine if blurry vision is due to diabetes, see an eye doctor about your symptoms and have your blood sugar levels checked.
  • Unusual weight loss (without dieting). If you are losing weight and you are not dieting, it may indicate that your blood glucose levels are too high. 
  • Extreme fatigue or irritability. Be sure to consider any other factors that could also be contributing to these feelings.
  • Recurring infections that are slow to heal. Diabetes can cause infections that are hard to treat with the usual means.
  • Nerve damage in the feet, hands, arms, and legs, aka peripheral neuropathy.

It’s important to talk with a doctor about any of these signs and symptoms to rule out any other health conditions that could be causing them. Our team at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to assess whether you have diabetes and/or any other conditions.

How Is Diabetes Treated?

Treatment depends on the type of diabetes and your overall health. Type 2 diabetes is managed with diet, exercise, and sometimes medication. Those with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin shots for the rest of their lives. The main goal of all these methods is to keep blood sugar levels under control so that complications don’t develop over time.

How to Prevent or Manage Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes research is constantly advancing, but there is no cure as of yet. To help manage or improve the symptoms, try the following:

  • Get moving with a healthy lifestyle. Losing excess weight can help naturally lower blood sugar.
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Choose lean protein sources, whole grains, and naturally sweet foods like dried fruit.
  • Get tested for diabetes if you are at risk, including if you are overweight or have a family history of diabetes.
  • Work with your doctor to create a plan that meets your needs. In some cases, medication therapy may be needed to prevent any health complications. You should also expect to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly on your own.

Why You Should Choose IMPC for Diabetes Care

With a full range of diabetes care services for children and adults, IMPC can help you address the symptoms and any complications that may arise. Our team will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan as well as closely monitor your progress.

You'll have access to a team of experts, who can share tips and tricks on how to manage diabetes effectively. You also get access to a variety of resources that provide information about healthy living with diabetes, such as weight loss resources or recipes for healthy meals.

To get help with managing diabetes or prediabetes, book an appointment with our caring, compassionate staff at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinics by phone or online today.

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