What are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Children?


insulin penWhile type 2 diabetes is very rare in children, type 1 diabetes constitutes almost 90% of cases involving children. Recognizing the symptoms of diabetes in children, diagnosing them and treating them is of utmost importance so as not to further complicate the situation. Which is why increasing your awareness about the symptoms and the reasons behind them will help you better understand the health of your child. Here are the symptoms of diabetes in children.

Initial Symptoms of Diabetes in Children

The symptoms of diabetes, in most of the children, sometimes go unnoticed if you are not sure what to look for. The initial symptoms sometimes might look normal and harmless, but, they need to be seriously considered and diagnosed. The initial symptoms include:

  • Frequent Urination – As the the kidneys continuously try to remove the excess glucose that is accumulating in the blood during when blood passes through them, frequent urination (polyuria) is seen in children suffering from diabetes.
  • Excessive Thirst – There will be an abnormal increase in thirst because of frequent loss of water from the body. You might find your child drinking large amounts of anything liquid like water or juices or milk. This symptom is known as polydipsia.
  • Increase in Appetite – Because of lack of insulin in the body the cells get starved of energy and this tricks the body into thinking that it needs more food. This results in abnormal increase in appetite and hunger. This symptom is known as polyphagia.
  • Fatigue – The lack of proper energy, because of the body’s inability to either produce insulin or utilize the insulin present in the blood, will result in fatigue, tiredness and drowsiness.
  • Dehydration – The frequent urination and loss of water from the body will result in dehydration if it is not compensated through rehydration.
  • Behavioral Problems – Apart from the physical symptoms of child diabetes, younger children will exhibit behavioral symptoms as they will not have enough understanding of what is bothering them and this shows in their behavior. They tend to get aggressive, irritated, denying, or withdrawing.

You should also consider the possibility of diabetes insipidus, rather than just diabetes mellitus as the symptoms polyuria and polydipsia can also be a result of problems in kidneys or the thirst mechanism.

Symptoms of Severe and Untreated Diabetes in Children

In some children, the symptoms of diabetes soon become severe when not recognized or treated promptly. These symptoms include:

  • Nausea and Stomach Ache – As the cells in the body are deprived of glucose for proper energy production because of lack of insulin, the body breaks down fats and proteins to produce energy. A process known as acidosis. Ketones, the byproducts of this process, are released into the blood to be discharged by the kidneys. This increases the acidity of blood and causes nausea and stomach ache.
  • Vomiting – Vomiting is one way of getting rid of unwanted things from the stomach. The presence of ketones in blood will result in nausea and vomiting to get rid of them.
  • Weight Loss – The consumption of fats and proteins for energy production by the cells will cause weight loss in children no matter what their appetite is and how much they eat.
  • Kussmaul Breathing – With the increase in the amount of ketone bodies present in the blood, if the kidneys reach their limit of being able to send them out of body through urination, there will be increase in the rate of breathing to send out ketones through air. This heavy and rapid breathing is called Kussmaul breathing.
  • Ketoacidosis – When the production of ketones happens at a much higher rate than the kidney’s capacity to send it out, it is known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

If you find anything different in the usual habits of your child that are even remotely similar to any of the symptoms of diabetes in children, you should take them to a doctor immediately for check up. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can save further health complications and difficulties.


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