Diabetes Symptoms in Children
Does Your Child Have Diabetes?
Diabetes in children is on the rise.
In the past, the most common diagnosis was Type 1 diabetes, also known as "juvenile diabetes." This disease results from an auto-immune reaction in which the body attacks and destroys insulin-making cells in the pancreas. There is no cure, but Type 1 diabetes can be managed with insulin injections, a healthy diet and exercise, and frequent blood sugar testing and monitoring.
Today, more and more children are now receiving a diagnosis of Type 2, or "adult onset" diabetes. Although both types of diabetes present in a similar manner, typically, the pancreas of a patient with Type 2 diabetes continues to function, albeit less efficiently. As a result, blood sugar levels rise to unhealthy levels and medication, a special diet and exercise are required. Some believe that Type 2 diabetes can be avoided or "cured" by losing weight and increasing physical activity.
Although the origins and causes of the two primary types of diabetes differ, diagnosis and treatment are very similar. Both require a blood sugar test to determine whether levels are elevated and, if so, by how much. Diabetes is treated by either administering insulin via injection (required for all Type 1 patients) or by oral medication that works to increase insulin sensitivity, in conjunction with a healthy diabetes diet and exercise.
Are you wondering whether your child has diabetes? You are in the right place! Review this hub and then make an appointment with your pediatrician. If symptoms are severe, do not wait, go straight to the ER or call 911. Do not delay!
Juvenile Diabetes Books
Diabetes Symptoms in Children
In general, diabetes symptoms in children are the same as those in adults. The difference is that a child is usually smaller and with fewer reserves than a grown adult. Hospitalization is necessary more frequently and for longer durations following a diagnosis.
If you are concerned about whether your child may have diabetes, consider the following checklist of potential symptoms:
- Excessive thirst - always asking for more water. Ask yourself whether there is a marked change in your child's consumption of or request for fluids
- Change in urination habits, including bed wetting, or numerous soaked diapers in relatively short periods of time for infants
- Ravenous hunger. Again, this symptom may be flagged when there is a recent change in eating habits
- Unusual and rapid weight loss. Anything greater than a loss 5% of body weight within a week should be checked by a doctor to rule out diabetes
- Extreme lethargy/lack of energy. If your child is suddenly sleeping more than usual and having difficulty arising after a night of sleep or a nap, this could be a symptom of diabetes
- Confusion, headaches, weakness. Combined with one or more of these other symptoms, you should consider scheduling a doctor's appointment for a blood sugar test to rule out diabetes
- Persistent vomiting without any other flu symptoms
- In extreme circumstances, loss of consciousness
Note that some or all of these factors may be present even if the child does not have diabetes!
The only way to know for sure is to have a medical professional administer a simple blood test to gauge blood sugar levels.
If symptoms appear pronounced, or if your child loses consciousness, call 911 or take your child to the Emergency Room immediately.
One Mom's Story of Her Son's Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis
How is Diabetes Diagnosed in Children?
In order to diagnose diabetes, it requires more than just a checklist of symptoms. A blood glucose test (also known as a blood sugar test) is required. It should be administered by a professional and run through a medical laboratory.
If you live in the United States, the measure of blood sugar is indicated in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). A healthy person will be in the range of 80-120 mg/dl. A reading over 200 mg/dl is often required for a diabetes diagnosis.
When blood sugar levels rise above 240 mg/dl, the patient can become very sick as their blood literally becomes acidic. This occurs because the body is breaking down muscle tissue for energy since it is unable to obtain glucose directly from the blood without adequate levels of insulin. As blood glucose levels rise, ketoacidosis may set in, causing loss of consciousness or even death, if left untreated.
What Diabetes Symptoms in Children Worry You the Most?
Diabetes is Serious but Treatable
Please be assured that, even if your child is diagnosed with diabetes, they can live a long and very healthy life. The key is to keeping their blood glucose in a normal, healthy range.
Be sure to find a good endocrinologist and a professional nutritionist, if possible. A child with diabetes should closely monitor blood sugar levels and exercise as regularly as possible. Most doctors recommend 30-60 minutes of activity per day.
A "normal" range of blood sugar levels for children is approximately 80-200. Lower than 80, and your child may feel hypoglycemic. Fortunately, many kids under the age of 18 will readily feel the effects of low blood sugar. That helps after they are diagnosed and are taking medication. However, high levels of blood sugar will make a child feel flu-like, as well as present with the other symptoms set forth above.
If you suspect juvenile diabetes and obtain a definitive diagnosis, be assured that medication and a healthy diet will help improve the health of your child!