What is Juvenile Diabetes?

by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Juvenile diabetes, more commonly referred to as type 1 diabetes, is named as such because children are the ones most typically diagnosed with it. One myth associated with juvenile diabetes is that only children can develop it or be born with it; this assumption is false. The majority of those diagnosed are juveniles however. This specific type of diabetes is one in which the patient is "insulin dependent."

Insulin is a hormone released from the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ that plays a vital role in digestion and hormonal regulation. When you eat anything your body breaks it down into little sugar molecules called glucose. Glucose floats around in the bloodstream until it is used for energy or stored for later. Glucose can only be used for energy when insulin is present. Insulin helps bring glucose into tissues and muscles for energy.

In type 1 diabetes, insulin is either not made in large enough amounts or not made at all. The result of no insulin is extremely high blood sugar, generally above 500 when diagnosed (the normal range is 75-110). When blood sugar is so high, it indicates that something else is being used as a source for energy. Fat is burned for energy rather than sugar and the result is that those with juvenile diabetes lose considerable amounts of weight. Other symptoms of juvenile diabetes are excessive thirst, excessive urination, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea.

If caught early, juvenile diabetes will not cause long-term complications like vision loss or stroke. If you or your child is diagnosed you may be hospitalized for tests and then the doctor will provide you with information on how to monitor and control your blood sugar. As mentioned earlier, juvenile diabetes patients are "insulin dependent." Once a diagnosis has been established the patient will be dependent on insulin shots or a pump for the rest of their life. Insulin shots are administered daily prior to meals and prior to bed. Insulin pumps automatically administer the insulin through a tiny catheter (tubing into the body connected to insulin supply). As inconvenient as a pump or shots may seem, living with juvenile diabetes is relatively painless and has almost no long-term complications.

Author Bio

Katelyn Schwanke

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