How To Detect Diabetes in a Child

Getting child's blood sample

Many of us are familiar with the symptoms of diabetes as they would manifest in an adult.  Here is a list of symptoms that will help you to detect diabetes in a child:

  1. Frequent urination and/or bedwetting.  An increase in urination might be detected in several different ways.  Perhaps your child has been sleeping through the night and suddenly begins wetting his bed. If your child is still in diapers, you might find that you've been changing diapers more frequently.  Or maybe your child is toilet-trained and all of a sudden, begins to have accidents.
  2. Irritability.  Your child may experience a shift in his general demeanor, such as becoming more clingy, grumpy, or quick to anger.
  3. Increased thirst.  Has your child experienced an increase in his thirst?  You are looking more for a shift in usual habits than at overall intake.
  4. Increased hunger.  Has your child experienced either an increase in hunger or in the quantity of food that he eats?
  5. Fatigue.  Has your child always been eager for new activities and now seems tired and listless?
  6. Weight loss.  Has your child recently lost weight?
  7. Chronic yeast (or skin) infections.  This is a symptom that is not always on everyone's radar when it comes to diabetes, but it is an important one.  When blood sugar is high, more food is available for the yeast to feed on.
  8. Blurred vision.  Blurred vision can be more difficult to detect in a child, but do take note if your child describes any change in the quality of his vision.
  9. Vomiting or abdominal pain.  Though less common, some children experience vomiting and/or abdominal pain when they have untreated diabetes.

Type I diabetes often strikes young people between the ages of five and seven when their genetic predisposition is "activated" by an environmental trigger, such as a viral infection (we all know how viruses can rage through a school environment).  Another key time is at the onset of puberty, when children go through significant hormonal changes.

The good news is that, as a parent, you will be able to detect any subtle differences in your child that could easily be overlooked by a doctor.  Keep in mind that many children with diabetes end up in a diabetic crisis before their disease gets noticed-err on the side of caution and bring your child in for a check-up if you detect any of the above symptoms of diabetes in your child. 


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