According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRFI), “every year over 13,000 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.” There is no known cure for this stealthy disease that attacks and destroys the beta cells that produce insulin. Symptoms present themselves suddenly and progress rapidly. Knowing what symptoms to look for, if you suspect juvenile diabetes has gripped your child, will lead you to seek the medical counsel of a physician.
Know the Symptoms
- The need to urinate often. If your child has been potty trained and begins wetting themselves frequently, consider juvenile diabetes as a possibility.
- Extreme thirst and a keen desire for cold drinks that are sweet.
- A need to eat often and complaints of being hungry.
- Eyesight problems such as blurred vision.
- Child complains of nausea and is vomiting. (Acute symptoms that need immediate attention) Losing weight while continuing to display a healthy appetite.
- Listless, tired, abnormally quiet.
- Falling into a coma. (A life threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention)
It’s not always apparent that a child has type 1 or juvenile diabetes. Some of the symptoms seem like average childhood problems that occur. Nausea and/or vomiting can be misconstrued as the flu. Irritability, being tired and listless may be attributed to behaviors all children exhibit at one time or another. The discovery of juvenile diabetes may happen during a visit to a physician for another ailment such as a vaginal yeast infection for girls or even a routine examination.
Untreated diabetic children may display restless behavior and an apathetic attitude when it comes to school. The inability to focus on tasks at hand leaves them somewhat dysfunctional and frustrated. Rapid, deep breaths that have a fruity odor are another more subtle sign that could easily be overlooked. The behaviors may go unnoticed by parents as symptoms of juvenile diabetes until the child reaches diabetic ketoacidosis. DKA is a serious condition with the body receiving little or no insulin and resulting in energy being produced by the breakdown of fat. This process causes ketones or acids to spill into the blood stream as toxins. One quarter of the children with juvenile diabetes has all ready advanced to the level of diabetic ketoacidosis before seeing a physician or being diagnosed. If the juvenile diabetes continues to go untreated, the child may lapse into a diabetic coma.
A diagnosis is made through blood tests that target glucose levels and urine tests that measure the level of ketones and glucose. The tests are far simpler to read than reading the behaviors of your child and being able to pinpoint them as potential symptoms of juvenile diabetes. With knowledge comes power and by knowing the symptoms parents have the power to begin successful management of type 1 diabetes giving their child the opportunity for as normal a childhood as possible.