When your child is diagnosed with a health condition it can be a very scary and overwhelming experience. Whether it’s a common illness or a rare disease the stress of the unknown and the ‘what if’ is a common spiral parents find themselves slipping into.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common illnesses amongst Australian children impacting 1 in 720 kids between the ages of 0-14 years. Although common, the implications of the illness are in fact life threatening so the onus is on the parent and carers to ensure the child receives appropriate management of the condition to enable them to live an active, vibrant life day to day.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the leading illnesses in Australian children. It is generally diagnosed throughout early childhood and is a result of the immune system destroying the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Insulin is required to turn glucose (sugar) into energy.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition that cannot be cured but it can be managed. Sufferers are required to test their blood glucose levels several times throughout the day and if a reading reveals their levels are below a healthy range they must inject themselves with an insulin shot to stabilise their insulin levels.
If the body does not receive insulin it begins to burn fat and releases negative chemical substances in the blood. If this continues for a period of time and no insulin injection is received then the accumulation of the hazardous chemicals can become life threatening. This is known as ketoacidosis, which is related to hyperglycaemia.
There is no known cause for type 1 diabetes but evidence suggests that if there is a family history of the illness you are at risk.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in Australian children.
Because the pancreas is no longer producing the insulin required, the sufferer or guardian must manually monitor and manage insulin levels on an ongoing basis.
Healthy and safe blood glucose levels vary per individual and the time of day. The advised levels may vary upon wake up, before snacks and meals, two hours post meal and at bed time. Talk to your GP about what levels are within the individual safe zone.
If you or your child are displaying the following unexplained symptoms, speak to your GP about being tested for type 1 diabetes.
A type 1 diabetic might experience hypoglycaemic or hyperglycaemic symptoms when blood glucose levels are not within their healthy range. Hypoglycaemia is when your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels begin to drop. It is the more common and dangerous type of diabetic emergency. Hyperglycaemia is when your blood glucose level starts to climb and is more easily managed.
|Signs and symptoms||
If a type 1 diabetic does not display or recognise symptoms that their blood glucose level is dropping their state will continue to decline, potentially leading them into severe hypoglycaemia. This often includes the inability to eat or drink, seizures or convulsions and unconsciousness.
If a casualty is unconscious:
If a casualty is conscious and signs suggest low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia):
If casualty is conscious and signs suggest high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia):
Seek immediate medical assistance if:
Ketoacidosis is a state of extremely high blood glucose levels that has developed over a period of a few hours or days. It is most often experienced by type 1 diabetes sufferers and is a result of a lack of insulin. The signs and symptoms of ketoacidosis include:
Note: if you are unsure whether the casualty is suffering from low or high blood sugar, give them a sugary drink. Consuming a sugary drink will not have an immediate negative impact if the casualty is in fact suffering from high blood sugar.
Often, those suffering may refuse your help due to their impaired mental state, particularly with hypoglycaemia. If this is the case, persist as much as you are able by offering them a sugary drink and monitoring the response. Do not give diet type drinks, as these don’t contain the much needed sugar.
If your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes it’s important the entire family understands the condition, possible implications and what day to day management involves. Management of type 1 diabetes does not need to be difficult, but it may take some getting used to at first. Important things to consider include:
The initial diagnosis of a child with type 1 diabetes can be daunting and understandably so, the unfamiliar can be unnerving and there is always a chance of serious health implications if not monitored correctly. Thankfully, the condition can be easily managed and something as close to a normal way of life is possible for all involved.