Watch out for symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children

Knowing the signs of type 1 diabetes is important for your child's health.

Without question, youth of today live busy, active lives. They are involved in weekend sports and school events at very young ages. Naturally, with any extra physical activity comes increased hunger, thirst and natural feelings of being tired. If your child is showing signs of listlessness and what seems to be endless thirst along with symptoms of weight loss, they might be suffering from type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, is a disease in which the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is needed to help glucose enter cells and provide the body with energy. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. The American Diabetes Association indicates that only about 5 percent of people have type 1 diabetes.

Undiagnosed type 1 diabetes can be life threatening. It can cause a build-up of glucose (blood sugar) in the body leading to a high blood acidic condition called, Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA).

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Bedwetting
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Fruity odor on breath
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision

If you recognize any of these symptoms in your child, take the opportunity to discuss type 1 diabetes with your child’s health care provider.

Take action

Not only parents, but grandparents, teachers and child care providers can all play a vital role in observing any ‘abnormal’ increases in hunger, thirst or fatigue. Non-parents can take action by mentioning these symptoms to the parents. Parents should take action by asking a child’s doctor or the school nurse about these symptoms. It could prove lifesaving.

Don’t just assume these symptoms are caused by your child being overly active. When you notice any of these symptoms over a period of time, ask your child’s healthcare provider for a quick and in-office diabetes screening. Education and communication are critical in keeping your child healthy and living an active life.

For more articles on healthy living, diabetes and chronic disease visit Michigan State University Extension.

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