There is little information in the community about diabetes in children, so catching the signs may be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Children with undiagnosed diabetes can become very sick very quickly.
Trust your intuition. Often, after diagnosis families look back and say, “Yup, that was happening. I knew something wasn’t right.”
Sometimes the symptoms are so vague that parents can’t clearly identify a problem — their child just seems “off.”
Symptoms of juvenile diabetes
What you might see is your child drinking more, often described as an insatiable thirst. He or she can’t seem to get enough. Children with diabetes also will go to the bathroom more often. You might notice there is more of an urgency to drink and get to the bathroom. Children often have “accidents” or wet the bed.
Your child may seem more tired than normal. Often, it’s hard to tell if the lazy days of summer have hit or if he or she doesn’t have a normal level of energy. After your child eats, he or she may seem to get a little surge of energy, but it doesn’t last as long as it normally would. He or she also seems to be eating more, but isn’t gaining weight or may lose some weight. Some parents think their child looks thinner because he or she is growing.
If the symptoms continue, you might notice a fruity odor to his or her breath, dark circles under the eyes and lethargy. He or she just doesn’t look the same. Children also may complain of stomachaches, with or without vomiting.
If your child is experiencing these symptoms, go to your primary care doctor or the emergency room and ask them to do a urine screen or a blood glucose test. A simple screening may make a big difference!
- Ann Norton, RN, CDE, nurse clinician, Diabetes Clinic, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
The Diabetes Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is one of the largest in the nation, serving more than 1,700 children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Our diabetes program has been named among the best in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals report.