Diabetes is one of the most common – and increasingly prevalent – chronic diseases in children. For parents, the challenge is recognizing the symptoms in their child.
Since the onset is slow and the changes are subtle, diabetes often isn’t recognized until a child is very ill, usually in conjunction with another illness.
There are two main types of diabetes in children: type 1 (previously known as juvenile diabetes) and type 2 (previously known as adult-onset diabetes).
In the past 10 years, in conjunction with the childhood obesity epidemic, there’s been an increase in the number of children who develop type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is when the body is unable to convert blood glucose – sugar – into energy. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, is needed to do that.
In type 2 diabetes, the body is producing its own insulin, just not enough. Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to being overweight. Other risk factors for type 2 include being older than 10, having a family member with type 2 diabetes, and being from a high-risk ethnic group, such as African-American, Pacific Islander and Native American.
Diabetes can occur at any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in toddlers and at puberty. Each year, about 15,000 U.S. children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and about 3,700 are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, according to the most recent estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So how do parents know if their child has diabetes? Keep an eye out for these nine common signs:
1. Unusual thirst.
Children with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes may be constantly thirsty. That’s because as their blood-glucose level rises, fluid is pulled from their body tissues. These kids may especially crave sweet, cold drinks.
2. Frequent urination.
The excess sugar in the bloodstream caused by diabetes means that the body needs to flush out that excess sugar. This is done through urination. If your child needs to pee more often than usual or has started to wet the bed, it could be a sign of diabetes. Sudden bedwetting is not necessarily a sign of diabetes; stress or trauma can also cause it, so rule that out before taking your child to the doctor.
A body that can’t use the energy from sugar may experience muscle mass and fat loss. The weight loss in a child with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes is often described as sudden and rapid.
4.Lack of energy
Your child may a feel constantly tired or sluggish because she’s not able to turn the sugar in her bloodstream into energy that her muscles and organs can use.
Abnormally high blood sugar causes fluid to be pulled out of the lenses of the eye, leading to blurred vision. If your child develops blurred vision out of nowhere, it could be a sign of diabetes type 1 or 2.
6. Extreme hunger.
When the body’s cells don’t get enough sugar, the body will think it’s hungry, even if it’s not. If your child asks for more food than seems normal, it could be a sign of either of the types of diabetes.
Nausea may be a sign of diabetes type 2. It’s important to rule out other possible causes, such as a stomach bug or food allergy. Nausea isn’t a strong sign of diabetes because some supplements and medications can cause nausea as a side effect.However, if nausea co-occurs with any other symptoms listed here, diabetes may be a possible cause.
8. Compromised immune system.
If your child has frequent infections such as colds, ear infections, wound infections and his or her wounds seem to heal more slowly than is normal, this could be a sign of diabetes type 2.
Girls with type 1 diabetes may develop yeast infections. A yeast infection in a baby or toddler may show up as very bad diaper rash.
The most important prevention tools for type 2 diabetes are a healthy diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Parents should check with a pediatrician to make sure a child’s body-mass index is below the 85th percentile.
With Type 1 diabetes, there’s no way to prevent it and there’s no cure. The body attacks the pancreas so it doesn’t produce insulin. The only treatment is to replace the insulin through an injection, which is a lifelong process.
Advice to all parents if you notice some of this signs of Child Diabetes please take your children to the doctor.