Diabetes is a serious chronic disease that should be taken seriously. It can damage parts of the human body such as eyes, teeth, gums, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. This is how it causes adult blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputations. If it progresses, it can cause stroke, heart disease and even death. These problems are not only faced by adults, but also adolescents who get diabetes.
There are two types of diabetes that will affect an adolescent; type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes affects the immune system’s function, attacking the pancreas’ insulin producing cells, also known as the beta cells. Because of this, the pancreas loses the ability to manufacture insulin. This is the reason why people with type 1 diabetes take insulin everyday.
The symptoms are weight loss, increase in urination & thirst, blurred vision, tiredness and constant hunger. If the adolescent isn’t treated at the right time, he/she can slip in to diabetic coma which can endanger his/her life. In type2 diabetes, the body is incapable of properly using the insulin produced by the body and requires insulin from an external source, too. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to type 1 diabetes. The teenager feels sick, tired, nauseated, and thirsty. He/she will get infections frequently, will develop blurred vision and will experience weight loss.
Parents play a vital role in combating the problem. They should constantly observe their child for eating disorders or signs of depression.
Children and adolescents, who have diabetes, face many challenges while trying to lead a normal life. They have to think twice before doing simple things as going to a party, playing sports and even when staying over with friends. This is because they have to intake oral medication or insulin. Their blood sugar level must be checked many times through out the day. Also, at gatherings, they have to avoid many food items. Because of this they will feel different from the crowd and can feel left out. Not only does diabetes pose behavioral challenges, but also emotional challenges.
Along with a doctor consultation, a psychologist must also be consulted who can deal with the emotional challenges of the adolescent. The family should also play an active role in making the youngster feel better. The family should work with a physician, dietitian and diabetes educators. Teachers, counselors, school nurses, day care providers, and other community members can provide extended support and guidance.