Symptoms of Diabetes in Children

Symptoms of diabetes in children worry parents a lot. When they become suspicious of signs, at first they are in denial. They will put blame on something else. Be it virus or stress, when the signs continue, they have no choice but consult a doctor.

Here are some of the symptoms of diabetes in children:

  • rabid thirst or thirsty all the time or polydipsia
  • urination and asking teachers for a lot of bathroom breaks or polyuria
  • blurred vision
  • increased hunger or polyphagia
  • weight loss that cannot be explained
  • apathy
  • fatigue

It is good for parents to be aware of the symptoms of diabetes in children for Type 2. Why? Because there has been an increase in Type 2 diabetes among children. Parents are guilt-ridden. They will keep thinking of how they could have done things differently. But really, it is better to spend the time and effort to get educated about this condition.

For Type 2, here are the symptoms of diabetes in children. Note that some of them are similar for the manifestations of Type 1:

  • blurred vision or any change in sight
  • frequent infections that are slow to heal
  • tingling and numbness in hands and feet
  • drowsiness and extreme fatigue
  • gum disease
  • weight gain

Knowing these symptoms of diabetes in children and the diagnosis that followed, the parents or guardians must make available an emergency kit to the school. This should have adequate provisions for 72 hours. Make sure it includes the following supplies:

  • carbohydrate-rich snacks
  • Glucagon emergency kit
  • fast-acting glucose source
  • blood glucose meter with the necessary strips, lancets and batteries
  • insulin and supplies
  • medications
  • insulin pump and supplies with the syringes
  • urine ketone strips
  • wet wipes
  • hypoglycemia food supplies enough for three incidents like quick-acting sugar and carbohydrate-rich snacks

School personnel should be aware that the students in this condition respond differently to having diabetes. Some are accepting and open to discussions while others are just resentful. Regardless, with or without symptoms of diabetes in children, they should be treated the same.

Here's a table to differentiate Type 1 and Type 2 including the symptoms of diabetes in children. I got this from the book entitled How to Control Diabetes by Dr. Seymour Alterman. Looking at this table will show the similarities and differences between the two.

Characteristic Features of Two Major Types of Diabetes
Clinical Features Type 1 Type 2
Age of Onset Usually before age 30, peak incidence at age 12-14 Usually after age 40, peak incidence at age 60-65
Clinical Onset Usually abrupt, may be gradual Usually insidious
Symptoms Polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, weight, loss, acidosis Often asymptomatic may have fatigue, weakness infections
Nutritional Status Usually normal Obesity in 80-90%
Ketosis-Proneness Frequent, especially if treatment insufficient Uncommon except during infection or unusual stress
Carbohydrate-intolerance Marked Mild, moderate or marked
Remission Phase Often occurs Following weight reduction
Stability Labile-wide fluctuations in blood glucose common Relatively stable - blood glucose fluctuations less marked
Insulin Responsiveness Sensitive Usually resistant
Control of diabetes Often difficult Usually not difficult
Therapeutic Requirements:
Diet Mandatory to balance food intake with energy expenditure and insulin dosage Diet alone may be adequate for therapy; clinical remission may follow weight loss
Insulin Necessary for all patients; most require at least two doses daily Necessary for 20-30% of patients; single, daily dose often adequate
Oral Agents (Sulfonylureas) or Metformin Not efficacious Frequently efficacious
Physical Activity Must be balanced with food intake and insulin May improve insulin action

Diabetes can be such a source of conflict in the family. Why? Because children and teens want to be independent of their parents but parents are so concerned about the diabetes that this natural desire to be independent can be compromised.

School personnel and health care team have to recognize this conflict. Counseling may be needed for a family suffering through these emotional issues along with the symptoms of diabetes in children. They will need all the support they can get to get through these issues.

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