Diabetes is the one of the top most common chronic diseases affecting childhood. Despite progress of medical science there is no cure for this disease. In young children the insulin dependent variety is very common. The symptoms of this disease are very distinctive. Yet, due to inadequate awareness, the diagnosis is usually missed in the early stages. Therefore, children are often treated for urinary tract infection, asthma, instead of diabetes initially.
Discovered in 1920 insulin has made a big difference to millions of people with type 1 diabetes. Even though insulin is not a cure for diabetes it has helped people live long and healthy lives without being affected by the side effects of the disease. The onset of insulin dependant diabetes (IDDM) is far more severe than that of non insulin dependant diabetes (NIDDM). An IDDM affected child is far more prone to sickness if not diagnosed and treated at the initial stages.
An IDDM patient requires injections daily for survival as his pancreas either make little or no natural insulin in the body. IDDM usually affects children and adolescents though it can occur at any age. In the USA itself, nearly one million people are estimated to be afflicted with IDDM. Though effective treatment exists for both IDDM and NIDDM, both cause long term damage to the eyes, heart, kidneys etc. leading to ailments like blindness, heart attack, and kidney disease.
Symptoms of IDDM, which can be severe and sudden, include frequent urination, thirst, constant hunger, and fatigue. Therefore, an IDDM patient must have insulin injections regularly. With daily insulin injections and a healthy diet most patients with IDDM can lead active and challenging personal and professional life.
Eating right foods and at the right time is an important part of treatment of IDDM. A person with IDDM needs to co ordinate his meals with insulin doses so as to prevent blood glucose from wild fluctuations. The diets chosen play a vital role in controlling blood glucose levels. Such people need to be careful in eating a balanced diet that’s recommended for good health – low in saturated fats, sugar, salt; whole grains, high in fiber, fruits and vegetables. To prevent high blood sugar levels post meals, it is advisable to spread the consumption of carbohydrates throughout the day. Carbohydrates include starchy food such as potatoes, breads, cereals and sugary foods like fruits, and sweets.
Keeping weight under check is a priority. This will help reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases. In this endeavor, physical exercise and appropriate diet helps. However, exercises needs to be done carefully. Strenuous exercise increases the use of glucose by the muscles, thus leading to lowering of glucose in the blood. For exercising safely, the patient must balance insulin doses and meal timings with the exercise timing to keep blood glucose levels from fluctuating either too high or too low.
Alcohol need not be sacrificed, but can be had occasionally and in moderation. However, it is necessary that alcohol is not consumed on an empty stomach. Similarly diabetics should quit smoking.
Without proper insulin treatment diabetics are at greater risk of developing complications such as heart problems, eyes, kidneys, and nerve damage.
Patients with IDDM can lead physically active and professionally challenging lives; however, they must continue taking all precautions and not take their health for granted.
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