Children are equally susceptible to diabetes as adults. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 in every 400 children are affected by diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease, and has been on the rise due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, which is why it is all the more necessary for parents to gets their children checked for diabetes regularly.
More and more children are falling prey to juvenile diabetes, some being diagnosed as early as before birth, while they are still in the womb. The reasons for this drastic increase, is because of the unhealthy choices we make today. Children are getting increasingly addicted to fast food and drinks which are saturated with sugar. To add to it all, video games and Internet has made it easier to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. For those children who are diagnosed with diabetes at a very early age, it is necessary to help them cope with this condition.
Diabetes mellitus is divided into two types of conditions, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the most common among children. This condition makes it difficult for the body to regulate the overall glucose level in the body because of the malfunction of the pancreas. The pancreas are responsible for the secretion of the insulin hormone, which is predominantly responsible for the storage and oxidation of glucose in the liver as well as the body cells.
How to Diagnose Diabetes Through Symptoms?
It can get very difficult to seek out specific symptoms among young children, as many parents may tend to ignore these signs as tantrums, or excuses for gaining their attention. However a persistent call for attention may actually need your intervention. Look for signs wherein the child is complaining about the following symptoms:
- Constant feeling of weakness.
- The child sleeps a lot more than usual.
- The child is lethargic and cranky.
- Not interested in playing outdoor games or doing his or her usual activities.
- The child has been complaining about headaches, stomachaches, and gets irritated very quickly.
- The child has been suffering from mood swings.
- The child is acting disoriented and confused.
- In children as young as 2 – 3 years of age, try to check for any sticky discharge in their urine. If present, it’s a sign that there is more sugar content present in the urine than is permissible. This is an indication that diabetes is a possibility and you must get the child tested as soon as possible.
- Another misleading and often confusing sign of diabetes is, wetting the bed. Children tend to wet their beds when they are young, which is why many parents may not give it a serious thought. However if your child does not do this often and the frequency has risen in the past few months, it may indicate an underlying condition. Many children with diabetes, tend to accidentally wet their beds, because they are too disoriented to realize reality from dream while sleeping.
- Another sign of diabetes is feeling excessive thirsty, and eventually excessive urination. Keep a tab on how many times your child visits the toilet. The reason being that, since there is too much of glucose in the body, the kidneys will be trying to utilize the water available in order to discharge the glucose through urine. However since more water is being discharged, the body will need more of it, so as to remain hydrated.
- Loss of appetite or a rapid increase in hunger are also signs of diabetes. However both these signs are often overlooked by parents, either as tantrums or an increased need for nourishment among growing children.
- Children with type 1 diabetes, usually end up eating a lot but also show drastic reduction in weight. This uncanny weight loss is because, the body cannot absorb all the energy and nutrients from the food being consumed. This causes the body to utilize the fats already stored within the cells, in order to function properly. Therefore check for steady weight loss, in spite of an increase in food intake.
- Difficulty in waking up is a strange and dangerous symptom of diabetes among children. This may indicate a drastic fall in the blood sugar levels, which may require that you feed something sweet to your child, such as orange juice or even a spoon full of sugar if you can’t find anything else in the house!
Types of Blood Test
All type 1 diabetes blood samples will contain autoantibodies, known as Ketones, which are produced after fat is broken down. This by-product is very common in this type of diabetes and can be detected through a blood or a urine test.
#1 Simple Blood Sugar Test
If most of the above symptoms are evident in your child, you must inform your pediatrician about them. Ask your doctor to conduct a thorough blood test of your child, so as to find out if the sugar levels are overboard or to check if there is something wrong with your child’s health. If the blood test, shows that the blood sugar is 200 mg/dL or more (milligrams per deciliter), then it’s a proof that your child is suffering from diabetes.
#2 A1C Test
If for some reason, your doctor seems unconvinced about the results, a different test will be conducted to prove the presence of the condition in your child. This test is known as the Glycated hemoglobin test or the A1C test. This test examines the blood sugar levels attached to the hemoglobin in the blood. These results will demarcate the sugar levels for the last 3 months, which will give adequate information and validation for the child’s change in behavior and state of health. If the A1C levels are 6.5% or higher, it indicates that the child is diabetic.
#3 Fasting Test
The doctor may instead opt for the fasting test in order to check the sugar level in your child’s blood sample. For this test, the child will need to skip dinner and not eat anything throughout the night. Test results which show that the blood sugar level count is more than 100 mg/dL is a sign of prediabetes. However when the count is 126 mg/dL or higher, then it’s a proof that the child is diabetic.
Home Testing Kit a Must-Have
All parents who have diabetic children, must keep a Blood Glucose Monitor handy at home. These monitors are simple to use, as the steps are specifically mentioned through diagrams in the instruction manual. You may ask your doctor about how, when and the number of times in a day, the device must be used. You will need to begin with the insulin treatment, which will require that you give insulin shots initially until the treatment shifts to insulin pumps, which is more convenient for the child. Your doctor will explain all that there is to know about type 1 diabetes in children, how to keep the glucose levels low, and how to look after their needs.
Parents will need to bring about drastic changes in the food that their children eat as well as how they treat them. These children need constant attention and a lot of love and understanding. Once the child gets used to the daily requirements of the treatment, he or she will be able to lead a very normal life. Diabetic children are not different and can be as active and bright as other non-diabetic kids. Hopefully this article has helped you identify the signs of diabetes in children through the early symptoms mentioned.