Sugar and Diabetes: What Parents Should Know

At some point, you've been told that sugar causes diabetes. This simply isn't the truth. This myth most likely began when those diagnosed as diabetics were encouraged to not eat sugar.

This doesn't mean that sugar can't be dangerous. Excess sugar in the bloodstream can lead to long-term damage to blood vessels that carry blood to the vital organs. This increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve damage.

Still, parents need to understand how diabetes affects your child and what to expect.

Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is caused by a problem with the body's immune system. A healthy body produces beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system confuses beta cells for invaders and destroys them. Diabetes occurs when too many beta cells are destroyed.

Type 2 diabetics still produce the beta cells, but either the cells don't respond to the insulin or enough isn't produced to meet the body's demands.

Symptoms


The disease is often undiagnosed because symptoms don't seem worrisome. Some of the prominent symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive hunger
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss

Effects of Sugar
The American Diabetes Association reports that sugars, like table sugar, do not raise blood glucose any more quickly than other carbohydrates such as potatoes or pasta. Different factors determine the speed at which food is digested. If a meal contains a large amount of fat or fiber or raw food, the longer it takes to digest. The blood glucose level at mealtime and diabetes medication in your child's system makes the difference.

Low Blood Sugar
Children who have diabetes should avoid frequent bouts of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. By balancing your child's activities, food choices and medication, parents can help their children's diabetes in check.

Parents who have a diabetic child need to work with their child's pediatrician or health professional to manage diabetes. Increased knowledge will lessen health problems your child may experience from diabetes.

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