Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the human body uses glucose, the main form of blood sugar. Glucose comes from the food we eat and is the largest source of energy needed to stimulate the functions of the human body. After consuming a meal, your body digests food and transforms this food into glucose and other nutrients that are absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract. The level of blood glucose rises after a meal and puts into operation the pancreas which produces the hormone insulin and releases it to the bloodstream. But in people with diabetes, the body is unable to produce or respond properly to insulin.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Both these types of diabetes cause high levels of blood sugar. However, both can cause this effect in different ways.
A person can have diabetes and do not realize because symptoms are not always obvious and can take a long time to manifest itself. Type 1 diabetes can appear gradually or suddenly.
The typical symptoms of type 1 diabetes are :
The need to urinate frequently. A child with diabetes feels the need to urinate more frequently and in larger volumes; feeling unusually thirsty is another symptom.
Lose weight (or not gain weight while growing) despite having good appetite. Children and adolescents who contract type 1 diabetes will probably have more appetite, but end up losing weight. That is because the human body depletes muscle and fat accumulated in an effort to provide the energy needed by cells exhausted.
Often feel tired because the body cannot convert glucose into energy properly. But in some cases, other symptoms may signal that something is wrong.
If these early symptoms of diabetes are not recognized and not treated, some chemical elements called ketones in the blood of children may lead to stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, bad breath, problems related to breathing and may even become unconscious. Sometimes these symptoms are confused with the signs of the flu or appendicitis.
Diabetes also causes problems elsewhere in the body, in blood vessels, nerves and gums. These problems do not usually occur in children with type 1 diabetes who probably had this disease only for few years. Children and adolescents with diabetes need to monitor and control their glucose levels.