Diabetes symptoms can be different in children than in adults. Recognizing the signs of high or low blood sugar levels is important for proper management of diabetes in kids. According to Diabetes UK, some common symptoms of diabetes in children include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, and recurring infections.
How to proceed if you suspect diabetes in your child?
Take your child to the doctor right away and insist on a blood glucose test if they exhibit any of the diabetes symptoms mentioned above. Your doctor will refer your child to a hospital or team of diabetes specialists if a quick and easy finger-prick test reveals high blood sugar levels. The test will also be forwarded to a lab for diabetes diagnosis.
If children’s diabetes symptoms are ignored
A kid may be in danger of developing hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS), also known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), if they have type 2 diabetes but it is not discovered for a lengthy period of time or if they also become ill with an infection. Additionally, their body may begin to suffer damage from excessive blood sugar. We are here to support you if diabetes is discovered in your child. We have a tonne of material, and if you have any questions, you may call our hotline to speak with one of our knowledgeable consultants.
Let’s examine each of these signs in more detail.
- Increased Thirst – One of the hallmark signs of high blood glucose is increased thirst, known as polydipsia. This occurs because the body tries to dilute extra glucose in the blood by producing more urine, which leads to fluid loss and dehydration. A child may complain of a dry mouth and feel constantly thirsty. They will drink more fluids like water, juice, and soft drinks than usual to try and quench their thirst. Thirst is the body’s way of trying to maintain fluid balance when blood sugar levels are high.
- Frequent Urination – Frequent urination, also called polyuria, happens as a result of the kidneys trying to remove excess glucose from the bloodstream via urine. When blood sugar levels are high, the kidneys work overtime to prevent glucose from building up to dangerous levels. As a result, a child may feel the need to urinate more often than normal, especially at night. They may also complain that the bed is wet even though they do not remember getting up to use the bathroom. Nocturia or bedwetting in older children can be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes.
- Weight Loss – Unexplained weight loss may occur in type 1 diabetes due to the body’s inability to use glucose for energy. When insulin levels are low, cells do not receive the signal they need to take in glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body begins breaking down fat and muscle tissue for fuel through a process called ketosis. This leads to wasting away despite a good appetite or even increased hunger. Significant weight loss over a short period of time should prompt evaluation for diabetes.
- Fatigue – Fatigue is a common symptom that results from the body not being able to utilize glucose properly. When cells do not receive adequate energy from glucose, a child may complain of feeling tired, weak, sluggish, or lacking energy even after adequate sleep. Activities that used to be easily managed may seem like a big effort. Fatigue associated with other diabetes symptoms should be taken seriously.
- Irritability – Mood changes are another potential sign of diabetes, especially if blood sugar levels are high or low. A child may seem cranky, restless, impatient, or irritable for no apparent reason. This could be due to hormonal imbalances caused by insufficient insulin or excess glucose in the body. Irritability is the body’s response to not feeling well due to abnormal blood sugar levels.
- Blurred Vision – High blood glucose can cause a temporary condition called glycosuria which results in excess glucose in the urine. The glucose in the urine draws fluid from the eyes via osmosis, resulting in blurred or double vision. Blurred vision is usually more noticeable up close such as when reading. It occurs due to dehydration from excessive urination and thirst. Blurred vision along with other diabetes symptoms warrants prompt medical evaluation.
- Recurring Infections – High blood glucose provides a welcoming environment for bacteria and viruses to thrive. As a result, children with undiagnosed diabetes may be more prone to frequent infections like yeast infections, gum disease, bladder or skin infections. This is because high blood sugar weakens the immune system’s ability to fight pathogens. Recurrent, persistent, or unusual infections should raise suspicion for an underlying condition like diabetes.
- Other Potential Symptoms – Some less common symptoms of diabetes in children may include bedwetting in younger kids, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fruity-smelling breath, excess hunger, and slow healing of cuts/wounds. Symptoms of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia include hunger, shakiness, sweating, paleness, dizziness, headache, mood changes, and seizures. It’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of diabetes symptoms and seek medical help promptly if noticed. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious health issues.
Diagnosis and Management
If symptoms suggest diabetes, the doctor will request blood and urine tests to check glucose levels. A fasting blood glucose over 126 mg/dL or random blood glucose over 200 mg/dL on two separate occasions indicates diabetes. Sometimes an oral glucose tolerance test is done. Genetic testing may also be considered for MODY or other rare types.
Treatment involves lifestyle changes, blood sugar monitoring, medication, and sometimes insulin therapy. Managing diabetes in children requires teamwork between the family, healthcare providers, and school. It aims to keep blood glucose in a target range to allow normal growth and development while preventing complications. With proper care and education, children can live active, healthy lives with diabetes.
In conclusion, being aware of diabetes symptoms in kids is key to early diagnosis and treatment. Recognizing signs of high or low blood sugar can help catch diabetes before serious health issues arise. Working closely with doctors enables children to reach their full potential despite having a chronic condition like diabetes. If you want such adherence to treatment plans and monitoring you can contact Dr. Moxit Shah, a renowned Endocrinologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating health conditions related to body hormones and different kinds of diabetes, through which most individuals can effectively manage steroid-induced diabetes.