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Coping With Juvenile Diabetes A Family Affair

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Diabetes in children is a growing problem in North Carolina. The number of cases has risen 25 percent in five years.

Once children are diagnosed, they need to learn how survive the disease.

Nathan Adams, 10, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months ago.

Vanessa Adams said her son was feeling tired and was very thirsty.

"I was trying to walk to my mom and dad's room to tell them what was wrong and I could barely walk straight," Nathan said.

He spent three days at WakeMed for treatment and education.

"We begin working with kids when they're an in-patient and they're in the overwhelmed stage. So we try to just teach them survival skills," said Debbie Langdon of WakeMed's Pediatric Diabetes program.

Nathan learned he needed to keep a special kit nearby in case of an emergency. The kit includes a syringe, insulin, tools for monitoring blood sugar and emergency snacks.

"I carry a few Lifesavers in my pocket for if I go low or something," he said.

With Type I diabetes, the body stops making insulin.

Family history is the biggest risk factor. Symptoms include excessive thirst, increased urination, weight loss and fatigue.

With Type II diabetes, the body does not use insulin properly.

Unlike Type I, it can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight with plenty of exercise. It can also be controlled without medication.

When a child is diagnosed, it affects the whole family. At WakeMed, parents attend once-a-month information classes. Adams looks forward to the classes.

"Just being around other people, other parents, other children. WakeMed has a very good support group going," she said.

Support and education can help these children manage their disease for a lifetime.


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