How to tell if your child has diabetes

Did you know that 25 per cent of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are referred late? The finding was made by John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford consultant paediatric diabetologist, Dr Julie Edge, and published in the British Medical Journal.

The fact that many children develop Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious illness, before a diagnosis has been made, underlines the importance of recognising diabetes symptoms before it is too late.

It is understood that 30 per cent of children who are newly diagnosed have had one more medical related visit before a diagnosis was made, highlighting the problem of missing early indicators

Symptoms of child diabetes

So what are the signs which doctors and parents should be looking out for? They include the following:

Intense hunger – because your child does not have enough insulin to transport sugar to the cells, this can leave their organs and muscles severely lacking in energy. The result of this issue can be extreme hunger.

Tiredness

Lack of sugar in the cells can also lead to a child becoming fatigued and lethargic.

Thirst and more frequent urination

Because of the surplus sugar which is increasing in the bloodstream, your child might become more thirsty than normal, and as a consequence need more visits to the toilet. This can also lead to bed wetting in children who are toilet trained.

Behavioural changes

Your child could suffer from mood swings, as well as a sharp decline in performance at school.

Weight loss

Because nutrition cannot be used for growth due to a lack of insulin.

Genital yeast infection

Occurs specifically in girls with type 1 diabetes. Babies may develop diaper rashes which are caused by yeast.

Obscured vision

A blood sugar level which is too high can lead to blurred vision, as fluid can leave the lenses of the eyes, making focusing more difficult.

‘Fruity’ breath

This refers to a breath odour which has been likened to fruit, which can occur due to the burning of fat instead of sugar, and the creation of substances such as ketones.

In many cases, what could be symptoms of type 1 diabetes can actually be completely unrelated to child diabetes. But the message is clear – if your child displays one or more of these symptoms, it is best to seek medical advice.

Dedicated to your child’s healthy future

At the London Diabetes Centre, our expert team is dedicated to helping children and young people with diabetes – and their parents – learn how to manage their condition successfully, and lead happy, healthy lives.

We have a specialist team of highly skilled paediatric consultants; in addition within our team we have dieticians, clinical psychologists and diabetes specialist nurses all dealing with younger people.

+44 (0) 20 3953 6222

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