Millions of American children live with Type 1 (formerly known as juvenile) diabetes. The symptoms can be scary and difficult to pinpoint. If you suspect your child has Type 1 diabetes, there are key symptoms to look for and important questions to ask your doctor.
Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms
The first signs of Type 1 diabetes often are extreme thirst and frequent urination. This happens as excess sugar builds up in your child’s bloodstream. The sugar pulls fluid out of your child’s tissues, leaving her perpetually thirsty. The more she drinks, the more she will urinate. Urination will deplete the body’s fluids and start the cycle again.
Your child may also become extremely hungry. Without insulin to move sugar and nutrients into the cells, the cells and organs lack energy. This translates to hunger. Of course, kids have hearty appetites as they grow. Watch for abnormal hunger, constant eating, or requests for food even if your child has recently eaten.
Despite frequent eating, a diabetic child often loses weight. Again, this is due to a lack of energy and sugar. Without these things, muscle tissues, fat stores, and fat cells shrink. Watch for rapid weight loss, or weight loss that occurs without an obvious cause like excessive exercise.
What to Ask the Doctor
Your doctor will perform blood and urine screenings to determine a diabetes diagnosis. Once your child is diagnosed, the doctor will guide you through diabetes care. This includes monitoring insulin and glucose levels, making dietary changes, and in most cases, overseeing insulin injections. Ask your doctor how much sugar your child needs daily, the signs of low or high blood sugar, and how your child can monitor her own insulin levels. Eventually, most kids will be able to give themselves injections. Ask your doctor the best way to teach them how.