10 Warning Signs of Diabetes in Children. The number of children affected by diabetes is on the rise throughout the world.
Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, was the common type of diabetes in children and teens.
But now more and more younger people, including children, are also getting type 2 diabetes, which was previously known as adult-onset diabetes.
Causes of diabetes in children
No one knows exactly why children or adults develop type 1 diabetes, but researchers think it has something to do with genes.
Certain environmental factors or “triggers” are also believed to be involved in causing this autoimmune disease.
Popular theories suggest that the disease develops when a virus or environmental toxin damages the pancreas or causes the body’s immune system to attack the cells that produce insulin.
Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented, and once it develops, the person needs lifelong treatment. As per estimates, 85% of type 1 diabetes cases are diagnosed in people aged under 20 years.
Obesity and inactive lifestyle are blamed for the increasing number of type 2 diabetes amongst children. Health experts believe that excess fat makes it harder for the cells to respond to insulin.
There also seems to be a genetic risk as most children with type 2 diabetes have a family history of the disease. But it could also be due to shared lifestyle habits. Children can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by:
- Changing the diet
- Maintaining healthy weight
- Being physically active
- Getting more exercise
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Diabetes in Children
Diabetes symptoms aren’t always obvious. But when symptoms develop, they are similar in children, teenagers, and adults. People who develop diabetes may:
1. Urinate a lot
When there is excess glucose in the blood, the kidneys may respond by flushing out the extra glucose in urine. This makes children with high blood sugar levels pee more. If your kid suddenly starts bedwetting, it could be the first sign of diabetes.
2. Extreme Hunger
The body converts the food we eat into glucose, the smallest currency of energy. When one suffers from type 1 diabetes, the glucose cannot be used by the body as there is lack of insulin – the hormone responsible for delivering glucose molecules to the cells. This makes one feel low in energy. So the body demands more food to stave off the hunger. It is a vicious cycle. If your child has an increased appetite, observe if he or she is showing other warning signs of type 1 diabetes.
3. Feel thirsty often
Because they pee more, they lose so much fluid, which makes them become thirsty often. This can make kids with diabetes drink a lot of liquids.
4. Mood Changes and Irritability
The continually fluctuating blood sugar levels create havoc on the mood of a person. Children are no different. When the sugar levels are low, we feel morose and irritable. When they are high, we feel full of energy and are in a better mood. And when the levels dip too low or go too high, it could make one feel depressed or manic. Frequent and unexplained mood swings in kids could be a warning sign of type 1 diabetes.
5. Get tired often
Since the body is not able to use glucose for energy properly, they get tired often.
6. Yeast Infections
This is another warning sign of type 1 diabetes. High sugar levels are dangerous for the health of genital organs as they lead to an unhindered proliferation of vaginal yeast, bacteria, and fungi. This subjects the girl child to many vaginal and urinary tract infections. Controlling the blood sugar is the best way to reduce the frequency of the infections.
7. Lose weight
Children with type 1 diabetes may have an increased appetite, but they may not gain weight as they grow or often lose weight. This is because the body breaks down muscle and stored fat to provide fuel to the hungry cells.
Yeast infections in females can also be a symptom of diabetes. Irritability, a fruity smell on the breath and blurred vision are also symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
8. Excessive Fatigue
In type 1 diabetes, there may be a high amount of sugar in the blood, but since it cannot be used by the cells. This makes the person feel weak and tired. Excessive and unexplained fatigue and weakness is a visible warning sign of type 1 diabetes.
9. Bed Wetting
This is commonly observed in children who haven’t been wetting the bed earlier. High sugar levels lead to frequent urination. Children cannot control their urge in sleep leading to bedwetting, another warning sign of type 1 diabetes.
10. Nausea and Vomiting
This is a warning sign of type 1 diabetes exclusive to this type. When the body burns fats and muscles instead of carbohydrates to release energy, it releases ketones – the waste materials of the process. In small amounts, they don’t cause much damage, but in high quantities, they can cause toxicity in the blood leading to nausea and vomiting.
The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes can make you feel overwhelmed as a parent. The responsibility of administering injections, monitoring sugar levels and taking care of the diet apart from worrying about the child will add to your woes. Remember, sugar control is important to avoid harmful effects of sugar causing complications, some of which can be fatal. With consistent care and appropriate medication, the situation can be brought under control.
10 Warning Signs of Diabetes in Children