When it comes to childhood diabetes, there are many things to consider including how you care for your child, costs of caring as well as the potential psychological or social problems your child may experience due to diabetes. But with little precaution and education on diabetes these children can deal it easily and lead a happy life.
Diabetes is a disorder of the metabolism described as high levels of blood glucose caused by a imperfection in creating insulin, failure to respond to insulin’s effects (insulin resistance), or both. Statistics say that childhood diabetes is also rising. Experts identified obesity, lack of physical activity behind the rising trend of diabetes in children. Family history and maternal infection during pregnancy are also considerable factor of developing diabetes.
Frequent urination and extreme thirst are usually the first apparent signs of diabetes. Other symptoms of diabetes that you may observe in your child include: sudden weight loss; fatigue; complains of abdominal pain; headache; blurred vision; itchy skin; slow healing of cuts and bruises; frequent infections of skin, gums, vagina, bladder; behavioural problems.
Children with diabetes need their parents’ help to keep their blood sugar levels in a safe range and to exercise safely. It is important for children to learn the symptoms of both high and low blood sugar so they can tell others when they need help. Some children who have type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar with diet and exercise alone, but many also need oral medication.
The fundamentals of diabetes management are nutrition supervision, physical activity, blood glucose testing and the avoidance of abnormally low blood sugar usually resulting from excessive insulin or a poor diet at highest risk for this form of diabetes.
Changing sedimentary lifestyles is essential to weight loss and control of type 2 diabetes in children. Exercise is helpful to reduce weight and also to increases insulin sensitivity at the cellular level.
A typical diet requires a reduced consumption of fats (especially animal fats) and sugars, and an increased intake fiber, vegetables and fruits. That means you will not always have to cook separate meals for your diabetic child since the whole family could benefit from the diet. Also, you should just ensure your child has his/her meals at regular intervals everyday, including snack times. Especially, if your child is taking injection, skipping meals or not taking meals with a high insulin dosage may have dangerous effects. During exercise, you should also note that sugar levels should not dip too low, so make sure your child has some sugar on hand if this happens. It is best to speak with your doctor about the diet and exercise regime that best suits your child’s special needs. The best thing to do is understand all the different aspects of diabetes so that you are well prepared and can also teach the child to cope with the disease independently.
The things to do as parents are:
1) know as much as you can about diabetes, its symptoms, complications
2) learn how to give injections and teach your child
3) monitor your child’s glucose levels routinely
4) know the symptoms of diabetes complications such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and the fastest remedies for them
5) make sure you always have sugar at your disposal
6) meet with your doctor on a regular basis as your child’s symptoms and treatment options may change over time
7) maintain a schedule of meal and snacks and also promote healthy eating in the family
8) Parents should inform child’s school, friends, relatives, etc. about child’s diabetes and what to do during an emergency
There is no cure for diabetes but it can be controlled. Family support, daily care and treatment help control diabetes so that a child can lead a healthy, active, and fun-filled life.
Dr Abu Sayeed Shimul
Assistant Registrar, Paediatrics,
Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Source: The Daily Star, November 21, 2009