Dr. Suat Günsel University of Kyrenia Hospital Pediatric Endocrinology Specialist Prof. Rüveyde Bundak MD. made a statement about children and life with diabetes on the occasion of the November 14th World Diabetes Day.
“For many people, November 14th is an ordinary autumn day. But for millions of children with diabetes in the world, 14th of November is at least as important as their birthdays. Because 14th of November marks the birthday of Frederick Banting who was the Canadian physician that discovered an essential part of their life; the insulin at the beginning of the past century (1921). World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation in honour of him. On the occasion of the World Diabetes Day different activities are carried out to inform (warn) the public, governments and the media about diabetes. International Diabetes Federation announced that “Family and Diabetes” is the theme of 2018 World Diabetes Day. Diabetes is now affecting more than 425 million people and most individuals are not receiving the adequate treatment.
Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is the deficiency of insulin hormone which is secreted by the cells of the pancreatic islets that leads to abnormalities in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Insulin helps our cells use glucose for energy. If blood cannot enter the cells because of a lack of insulin, it accumulates in the blood. Blood sugar that is higher than 180 mg/dL is excreted in the urine. Glucose attracts water and it leads to frequent urination and increased fluid intake. Insulin deficiency causes weight loss, and weakness. As a result, the most frequent symptoms of diabetes; excessive fluid intake, frequent urination weight loss, and weakness occur.
There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes (is associated with insulin deficiency), type 2 diabetes (caused by a resistance to the action of insulin on its receptors). In addition to this there are some rare forms of diabetes known as MODY which are associated with some genetic disorders or which occur during pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, diabetes also occurs in children. Until the year 2000, 98% – 99% of children and adolescents were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was considered an adults-only condition as only 1–2% of children have been diagnosed with this type. Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for the development of Type 2 diabetes. Over the past 20-30 years, Type 2 diabetes has grown in parallel with the worldwide rise in obesity. The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes has increased by 15%-45% among adolescents and it is linked to the rise in obesity.
When a child is diagnosed with diabetes his / her life changes. Firstly some words change meaning. They may have fear of needles and everyone close to them try to find strategies to offer help. On the other hand other children may make an effort to overcome their fear and get used to having insulin injections. What will happen now? What will replace the pancreas which used to function well in the past? Insulin plays a vital role in their life and it needs to be replaced. But by itself insulin is not enough. Also self-care knowledge and more importantly, diabetes management is required. An effective paediatric diabetes treatment includes blood glucose measurement 4 times a day, assessment of these results and adjustment of an appropriate insulin dose accordingly. A number of studies have shown that regular blood glucose measurement for effective insulin therapy is necessary.
Children are getting to know diabetes at an early age or at the beginning of adolescence. Either way, they have a future ahead of them and they live together with diabetes. They actually grow up with diabetes. Diabetes affects their growth so as the growth affects their diabetes. Although they try to overcome the difficulties of growing with diabetes, in fact, they have many problems. Some children say that they had to hide their diabetes from their friends for a long time. Ignorance among the general public about diabetes is the main underlying cause. Some children state that their friends do not shake their hand because they think that diabetes can be contagious. In addition, adolescence is already a difficult stage for children and their relations with their friends at school force them to hide their diabetes. Some children cannot stop thinking that they will be treated differently if people learn that they have diabetes.
Yet it is dangerous to hide diabetes. During diabetes treatment, hypoglycemia may occur and the child might need help. For this reason, close friends of children with diabetes should be aware of emergency situations related to diabetes. It is important to monitor the children with diabetes and to motivate, and educate their families as part of their treatment. “