Type I diabetes was once known as juvenile diabetes because it generally shows up in childhood. Usually, the condition sets in quickly. Within a matter of weeks or months, the islets of Langerhans on the pancreas stop making insulin, and sugar begins to build up in the child's blood. Though there is a genetic component to type I diabetes, anyone can develop it. So, as a parent, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms so you can get your child to the doctor if diabetes is suspected.
Excessive Thirst and Urination
Your child may begin drinking glass after glass of water or other beverages, never seeming to quench their thirst. This goes hand-in-hand with frequent urination, which may interfere with your child's ability to sleep at night or stay focused at school. These symptoms arise because the kidneys must filter out the extra sugar in the bloodstream -- and they must expel water from the body to do so.
When type I diabetes first shows up, most children become extremely tired. You may struggle to get your child out of bed in the morning, and they may tell you that they feel like they're getting a cold or the flu. At school, your child may suddenly start struggling to keep up in gym class. At home, they may start preferring to sit around rather than play with friends or siblings.
Is your child rubbing their eyes a lot? Are they struggling to see the television or complaining that their vision is blurry? High blood sugar due to diabetes can cause the pressure in the eyes to increase, making it tough for your child to see.
Yeast feeds on sugar, so it is common for children with diabetes to develop thrush. A female child may complain of itchy genitals, which you find to be due to a yeast infection. (Male children can develop genital yeast infections, too, but they are less common.) You may also notice a white film on your child's tongue and cheeks -- this is yeast.
An insatiable appetite is another hallmark symptom of diabetes. This is more than just a big appetite because "your child is growing." Your child may eat sleeve after sleeve of cookies or always be asking for snacks, even after eating a huge dinner. This symptom occurs because your child's cells cannot absorb the sugar from his or her bloodstream. They trigger hunger responses because they are not "fed."
If your child displays any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your pediatric service ASAP.