Gone are the days when kids—and their parents— have to contend merely with Type 1 diabetes
mellitus (DM) also known as “juvenile” diabetes. Many of them are increasingly being diagnosed with having type 2 DM as well. Many are familiar with type 2 diabetes mellitus, a chronic or lifelong disease in which the body does not respond as expected to or produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating how the body utilizes glucose.
Type 1 DM, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs under a different mechanism. At some point, for reasons that are still being studied today, the pancreas stops producing insulin in
the amount needed to maintain normal blood sugar. According to Dr. Sioksoan Cua, pediatric endocrinologist from Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, and Chinese General Hospital, the cause of type 1 DM is said to be a genetic predisposition or caused by
an environmental trigger like certain viruses and chemicals. Both factors stimulate an immune
attack against insulin and cells of the pancreas that lead to cell death and eventual symptoms
of type 1 DM. There is no way to prevent type 1 DM.
Diagnosis and symptoms
Celine Bangsal, 22, was diagnosed with type 1 DM when she was 13. At that time, her mom noticed that she was losing weight, always thirsty, frequently going to the bathroom, and
often sleepy. A blood test showed her sugar to be three to four times above normal levels. Since then, she has taken insulin shots twice a day.
Celine admits she found coping with her disease difficult at first. She had to conquer her fear of needles. Her family also had to make adjustments in food preparations at home. They are past those issues now after learning how to compromise. What helped was joining a summer camp for children with diabetes (Camp COPE). The support of her family also made it easier for her to deal with her illness.
In addition to the symptoms Celine’s mother noticed, Dr. Cua, who stressed the importance of
early diagnosis, also lists the following warning signs:
• bedwetting in a previously toilet-trained child;
• blurring of vision;
• dry, itchy skin;
• recurrent skin infections;
• vaginal itching;
• difficulty breathing; and
• increased sleepiness.
When the diabetic child gets sick, more frequent monitoring of blood glucose is important. Levels may shoot up when the child catches a cold or has a cough. Levels may plummet when the child vomits. Depending on the blood glucose, insulin adjustments may be necessary. If blood glucose control is good, there is less risk of complications.