What is juvenile diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease in which high blood sugar (blood sugar) levels are found, due to a decrease or even absence of insulin (hormone secreted in the pancreas that plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism).
There are 2 types of diabetes:
- type I, insulin dependent, juvenile, most commonly found among children;
- type II diabetes, which occurs in adults over 40 years of age and does not require insulin replacement therapy in more severe, complicated cases.
To better understand what diabetes is, we need to explain some basics of carbohydrate metabolism and insulin.
Most ingested foods contain carbohydrates which, after preliminary digestion, are converted into carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy of the body being vital for survival, being used by all the cells of the body and especially the brain, muscles and liver. To be metabolized, carbohydrates must first enter the cell, a process that requires insulin.
Insulin is a hormone secreted in the pancreas (from the beta cells of the endocrine pancreas) and is released into the bloodstream whenever glucose levels rise (postprandial, stress, exertion). When secreted insulin cannot maintain a normal blood glucose level (between 70 and 110 milligrams per deciliter), with higher blood glucose levels, diabetes appears.
At glucose levels above 160 mg, glucose is excreted in the kidney and is found in the urine (glucose is normally absent in the urine).
In type I diabetes, the pancreas does not secrete insulin, or secretes a very small amount of hormone, so for survival, the administration of synthetic insulin is mandatory.
In type II diabetes, the pancreas secretes insulin, but some changes occur at the cellular level, which do not allow the use of glucose as an energy source (peripheral insulin resistance).
Cthe complications of diabetes:
- ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar diabetic coma (medical emergencies requiring immediate medical treatment);
- renal insufficiency (diabetic nephropathy);
- diabetic retinopathy, which ultimately results in vision loss;
- ischemic heart disease;
- cerebrovascular diseases (macroangiopathic complications of diabetes that occur especially in adults and which can cause myocardial infarction or stroke);
- chronic infections (urinary tract infections, skin infections, and pulmonary tuberculosis are quite common among people with diabetes);
- diabetic polyneuropathy (nerve damage manifested by pain, paresthesia, functional impotence of different organs, especially the limbs);
- osteoporosis etc.
Frequency of diabetes in children
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic metabolic diseases in children. It occurs in 1 in 400-600 children or adolescents worldwide. Until a few years ago, type I diabetes was most common in children, but in the last period, the number of type II diabetes has increased in the young age (largely due to diet and stress).
Causes of diabetes in children
Type I diabetes occurs more frequently under the age of 40, especially in children, the causes of the disease being still unclear, but several etiological factors are involved, such as:
- genetic ones (diabetic parents have a 50% risk of having a child with the same condition);
- viral infections (the urlian virus that causes mumps to be most commonly involved, cytomegalovirus, adenoviruses, influenza viruses, etc.);
- nutrition (breast milk contains a protein that can cause diabetes, but only in children predisposed to develop the disease);
- pollution etc.
Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease with many complications. Maintaining normal blood glucose levels (through insulin administration) prevents complications, which occur within a variable range from the onset of the disease (approximately 7-10 years).
Juvenile diabetes is an autoimmune disease. A number of autoantibodies targeting insulin secretory pancreatic cells have been identified. Although genetic factors have been implicated in the etiology of diabetes, there are a large number of diabetics who have no blood relatives with this condition.
Factors that predispose to diabetes:
- viral infections (especially those with the urlian virus);
- environmental pollution etc.
Genetic factors are most commonly found in the etiology of type II diabetes (family aggregation), but do not condition the disease. Diabetes occurs in people predisposed to develop the disease (who have relatives with blood in diabetes), which also associates other risk factors such as environmental, infectious and eating disorders.
There are situations and conditions associated with diabetes:
- high blood pressure;
- chronic pancreatitis;
- chronic treatment with different drugs (corticosteroids, used in many chronic diseases, can cause diabetes).
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