A recent study demonstrated that, although life expectancy for individuals diagnosed with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes has gone up, the incidence of diabetes as a whole is seeing a steady incline—particularly in young people.
Interestingly, new cases of diabetes in youth are not merely one type, but both. Because the sources of both are vastly different (one can be attributed to lifestyle choices, while the other is largely unrelated), the rise of both simultaneously has garnered some interest among researchers.
Whatever the root cause, or whichever the type, there are some symptoms of diabetes in children that should never be ignored. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, contact your healthcare provider for diabetes evaluation and potential diagnosis.
#1. Excessive Urination
This particular indicator can be difficult to detect, as what seems excessive for one child may be standard for another. The best way to identify whether or not urination has reached an “excessive” level is to weigh it against your child’s usual habits. If your child usually visits the bathroom once every 2 hours, for instance, but is suddenly needing to use the restroom once per hour, this may be cause for concern.
Although this could also indicate the presence of a urinary tract infection, both should be checked out by a qualified physician.
#2. Becoming “Hangry”
While some amount of irritation is to be expected prior to having a meal, if you notice your child is deeply unsettled, angry, or irritable prior to a meal, this may be a sign that the child in question is experiencing blood sugar troubles. While some whining or similarly difficult behavior is acceptable before eating, drastic mood swings or large fits could indicate a problem.
#3. Excessive Thirst
Because diabetes can pull fluid from tissue, many children with diabetes experience extreme thirst. Again, this will vary from child to child, as some children consume a lot of liquid on a regular basis. If you notice, however, that your child’s thirst suddenly seems ravenous or they seem to be gulping their water each time it is given to them, it may be time to pay a visit to your doctor.
#4. Weight Loss
Although diabetes is often associated with weight gain or being overweight, type 1 can trigger sudden and severe weight loss. Because your child’s body cannot properly utilize sugar stores during this time, their body will begin to pull from fat and muscles stores, causing weight loss and even an emaciated appearance.
Some fatigue in children is perfectly normal. A long, hot day at a waterpark, for instance, will likely trigger more fatigue than is common. If, however, you notice that your child is becoming increasingly tired without exerting more energy, or you notice lethargy in your child without an illness such as the flu present, this is a serious indicator that you need to visit your child’s pediatrician.
Although proper management and treatment can reign in the side effects and complications of diabetes, early detection is a key aspect of minimizing potential complications. If you notice any of the above signs in your child, make an appointment with your physician for a diabetes evaluation. Remember to list all of your concerns and your child’s symptoms.