With our nation’s focus on fighting obesity, Type 2 diabetes gets its fair share of press coverage — and with good reason. But it’s also important to know the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, especially for parents. Formerly referred to as Juvenile Diabetes, Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children, adolescents, and young adults.
This type of diabetes happens when the pancreas stops making insulin, the hormone needed to help the body digest glucose. It can also occur if the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin. Type 1 and Type 2 share many of the same symptoms — excessive thirst, frequent urination, unintentional weight loss, and extreme fatigue are some of the most common.
Children can drink a lot of water under perfectly normal circumstances, so vigilant parents need not overreact if Junior is thirsty after his Saturday morning soccer game. Rather, it’s over-the-top and prolonged thirst that is cause for further investigation. Frequent urination is another common symptom. This can sometimes present as new onset bedwetting, but isolated incidents of bedwetting are not necessarily a red flag. Look out for increased daytime urination as well. If you have concerns, ask your child’s teacher if he or she has been going to the bathroom more frequently at school. Excessive hunger is another symptom that can be difficult to quantify in kids. Watch for weight loss and fatigue despite eating all the time.
Pay attention to isolated complaints, but don’t worry that your child may be diabetic if he or she is occasionally thirsty or tired. The key is to look for ongoing symptoms because if your child does have Type 1 diabetes, these symptoms will continue and get worse over time.
There is currently no cure for diabetes, but researchers have made great strides in developing treatments and making it easier for diabetics to live normal lives. If you think that your child may have diabetes, visit his or her pediatrician for testing. Because children with Type 1 diabetes are often fairly sick by the time a diagnosis is reached, treatment can quickly result in very noticeable improvement.