Diabetes is a disease. It affects both children and adults. The fundamental nature of the disease is that individuals have blood glucose levels which are higher than the normal range (Basics About Diabetes, np). We eat food, this food is converted into glucose, and our bodies use this glucose sugar for energy. The human pancreas is the organ which is responsible for making the hormone known as insulin. Insulin helps the glucose get into our cells. Diabetes is dangerous because it means that the body cannot produce enough of its own insulin or it cannot use the insulin produced sufficiently. Diabetes causes sugar to increase and build-up in the blood. The consequences can be
severe, as noted by National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, "Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States" (Basics About Diabetes, np).
The symptoms of juvenile diabetes, which is estimated to account for between 5% and 10% of all diabetes cases, are varied. The symptoms may include a frequent need to urinate, an excessive thirst, or an unexplained loss of weight. A person may also experience feelings of excessive hunger, numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes, or a sudden problem with vision. Other symptoms may involve dry skin, an increase in infections, or sores which are slow to heal. The onset of juvenile diabetes is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and stomach pains.
There are well-known risk factors for diabetes in adults, such as obesity and physical inactivity, but the risk factors for juvenile diabetes are "less well-defined"
(Basics About Diabetes, np.) Risk factors are thought to be autoimmune, genetic, and environmental and these areas are the subject of continuing research.
There are, fortunately, treatment methods for juvenile diabetes. The most basic methods include a healthy lifestyle accompanied by regular insulin injections. There should be a healthy diet and a regimen of physical activity. The insulin injections compensate for the inability of the pancreas to produce the requisite amount of insulin. These methods must be coordinated because the amount of insulin which must be injected correlates to the amount of food intake and the amount of physical activity. It is
important to note, however, that while there are rather well-established treatment methods there are no methods for prevention. Researchers continue to search for what they refer to as "environmental triggers" and "genetic triggers" in an effort to find some means for preventing the onset of diabetes in juveniles.
There is some enthusiasm in the medical community about possible cures for diabetes in the future. Some of the theories and methods currently being researched and tested include pancreas transplants, the transplant of islet cells (these cells produce insulin), artificial forms of pancreas development, and forms of genetic manipulation where "fat or muscle cells that don't normally make insulin have a human insulin gene inserted - then these "pseudo" islet cells are transplanted into