Youth Diabetes – What, Why and Measures to Avoid

Does your child ever show weird symptoms such as frequent urination, itchy, dry skin, tingling sensation in feet, or blurry eyesight? DO NOT put them off by assuming that they are just a bunch of excuses for bunking school or missing those classes. These could well be the symptoms of juvenile diabetes. Although, diabetes has been known as a disease that hits middle-aged and older people, cases of this disease in children has been on the rise in recent times. Globally, the incidence of diabetes is increasing in children and youth by about three percent per annum.

The numbers say it all

In India alone, 50.9 million people suffer from diabetes, according to a study by the Diabetes Foundation of India. This figure is likely to go up to 80 million by the year 2025, and if substantial measures to prevent it are not taken, India could well become the ‘Diabetes Capital’ of the world. Increasing number of children are developing this disease, with up to 90 percent of all childhood diabetic cases being Type 1, wherein the child is dependent on insulin for survival. Research has shown that nearly one in every four urban Indian teenagers aged between 12 to 18 years is on the verge of developing diabetes.

Major causes of juvenile diabetes

So what exactly is the cause of these increased diabetic cases? Never before did juvenile teenagers have to think twice before relishing an entire bar of chocolate or having sweets. Studies suggest that one of the major reasons for this tragedy taking over the country’s youth is their lifestyle. The younger generation these days is used to a high caloric diet and a lot of junk food, while their sedentary lifestyles let their days go by with a lot of inactivity. Children spend more time indoors playing games on their phones and watching YouTube videos, instead of the conventional outdoor games. Obesity among kids is one of the major causes. More than nine percent of adolescents between nine and 18 years of age have more than average abdominal fat. Sixty-eight percent of urban children never even exercise!

Diabetes is essentially a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose, which could either be because of inadequate insulin production or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the child needs to depend on insulin for survival, while Type 2 diabetes could also be genetic, where insulin resistance is seen in obese children with a family history of diabetes. Low birth weight, maternal under nutrition, low lean mass, diabetes during pregnancy, impaired glucose tolerance and urban stress could be some of the factors.

Prevention is better than cure

Since it is a subject which has come into the limelight quite recently, creating awareness about diabetes in children in one of the first steps. Take your kids for regular check-ups to ensure that they are not victims of it. Even if you see the smallest signs of any of these

symptoms in them, you should take immediate action:

1. Frequent peeing in large amounts

2. Increase in thirst

3. Dry mouth or throat

4. Weight loss

5. Irritability or quick mood changes

6. Changes to (or loss of) menstruation

7. Stomach aches 8. Nausea and vomiting

9. Heavy, rapid breathing

10. Drowsiness

Another important preventive measure that can be taken is to change their lifestyles. Ensure that there is enough physical activity through the course of their day so that they remain fit and energetic. Inculcate healthy eating habits in them; all kids love junk food but you have to make sure that they don’t go overboard with it. Try to incorporate enough fiber and omega-3 in your kid’s diet. This will help maintain the fat and hormonal level in an individual. Green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, cow’s milk, soya and healthy proteins should be a large part of the meal.

If your kid is already diabetic, maintaining his sugar level and diet becomes even more vital. Diabetic teens are more prone to heart ailments, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack and a constant fatigue. Ensure that your child drinks plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. Avoid risks by discouraging body piercings and tattoos. While sugar-free foods are often opted by adults, experts suggest that these foods are a strict no-no for kids. Black raisins are what you can resort to instead of honey, dates, jaggery and brown sugar since they are high in sugar content.

Apart from that, ensuring that they take their medical supplements on time is another factor since blood sugar levels are very prone to dropping and rising frequently. There are various healthcare management systems available in the market today in the form of apps to keep a tab on your health regimes. Once you feed your data in this app, it keeps a check on your health stats, along with keeping you informed about your times for medicines and appointments.

Staying healthy and fit is a long term goal which can be achieved by taking one step at a time. Most importantly, if one stays aware, eats right and takes regular check ups, it is easy to build up the immunity and avoid visits to the doctor.

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