Warning Signs of Diabetes in Kids

Dr. Emily Foster

By Dr. Emily Foster

It is commonplace for people to associate certain ailments with adulthood and old age, in general. Diabetes is one such example, and it is one disease that affects a large part of global human population. Unlike what you may think, diabetes affects children too. When you find your child is afflicted with the disease, it may lead to worries, anxiety and frustration. However, with proper diagnosis and knowledge of warning signs of diabetes in children, you can take preventative steps and do the right things to keep the affected child in good health.

Warning Signs of Diabetes in Kids

Type 1 diabetes in children

As a matter of fact, a majority of children who are diagnosed with diabetes get affected by type 1 diabetes. The digestive system in your child’s body turns carbohydrates into glucose and the pancreas creates insulin, a type of hormone. Insulin moves glucose from his/her bloodstream into the body cells where it is treated as fuel. In type 1 diabetes, the affected child’s body is not able to generate insulin. The child requires insulin injections on a regular basis. The condition is also called as juvenile diabetes. While Type 1 diabetes in kids may appear overwhelming both for the kid and parents at first, progress in medical science has made management of such condition much easier.

Warning signs/ symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in children you should know

It is better when you learn the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in kids. These signs tend to develop fast, usually within a few weeks. These are the major warning signs of type 1 diabetes in kids-

  • Unusual thirst and excessive urination– When your child is affected with type 1 diabetes, the excess sugar buildup in his or her bloodstream saps fluid from the tissues. You will notice that your child is always thirsty. The child will tend to drink and urinate more than usual. Some kids affected by the condition may experience episodes of bed wetting.
  • Excessive hunger– Without adequate amounts of insulin for moving sugar into his or her cells, the child will feel lack of energy. This can lead to excessive hunger.
  • Loss of weight-Strangely, your child will lose weight despite feeling hungry most of the times when affected by type 1 diabetes. Unexplained weight loss is one of the prominent signs of type 1 diabetes for kids.
  • Tiredness– If your child is affected by this condition, he or she may feel tired most of the times owing to lack of energy supplied in body cells.
  • Blurred vision– When the affected kid has elevated blood sugar levels, the lenses of his/her eyes may get less fluid. This may lead to blurred vision.
  • Behavior change– A child suffering from diabetes may suddenly become irritable and his/her performance at school may suddenly take a dip.
  • Other signs– Other symptoms of kids affected by type-1 diabetes are fruity smelling breath and recurring yeast infections.

You have to keep in mind that kids who have type 1 diabetes may not show all these symptoms at once. Severity of the symptoms may also vary from one affected kid to another.

Type 2 diabetes in children

diabetes in children

Until few years back, instances of type 2 diabetes in kids was literally unheard of. Even the medical fraternity believed that kids could only be affected with type 1 diabetes. However, the truth is children also develop type 2 diabetes.

When the child is affected by type 2 diabetes, his or her body cells fail to respond to insulin and as a result bloodstream gets more glucose. This is what doctors refer to as insulin resistance. The blood sugar level in the affected child’s body gets too high and eventually it may pave the way for serious ailments like blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.

Usually kids with excess weight especially, hispanic or african-american origin, and family history of diabetes develop type 2 diabetes. It tends to affect girls more than boys. Lifestyle habits such as binge eating and lack of enough physical activity also add to the risk factors.

Warning signs/ symptoms of Type 2 diabetes in children you should know

The sad thing is signs of type 2 diabetes in kids are often hard to find out. In most instances, the condition develops at a slow pace, making diagnosis tedious. Sometimes, symptoms are seen when the condition has become quite severe. Listed below are a few major signs of type 2 diabetes in children.

  • Fatigue– If you find the child is always tired, even without indulging in strenuous activities, it may be a sign of type 2 diabetes. The body cells of kids suffering from the condition, do not get enough glucose and lack of energy leads to a feeling of persistent tiredness.
  • Excessive thirst– If you find the child remaining thirsty despite drinking enough water and beverages, it can also indicate the onset of type 2 diabetes.
  • Urination at frequent intervals– Excessive sugar levels existing in the bloodstream of an affected child sucks fluid out of the tissues. You will find the child going to the bathroom several times a day.
  • Increased appetite– Kids affected by type 2 diabetes lack enough insulin to provide fuel to body cells. So, for them, food becomes a source of energy and an increased hunger sets in. They may get more and unexpected hunger pangs throughout the day.
  • Slow-healing sores– Another sign of type 2 diabetes in kids is sore taking longer to heal.
  • Skin darkening– In a number of kids afflicted by this condition, patches of skin may grow darker than other parts. Insulin resistance in a kid’s body can lead to skin darkening, in parts like neck and armpits.

Coping with diabetes in kids

There is no need to lose hope if your child is detected with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Based on the kid’s condition, lifelong monitoring of diet and intake of insulin injection may be required. However, you also need to provide mental support to the kid as he/she adjusts with changed diet and lifestyle after the diagnosis. With family support and solidarity, many diabetes affected kids go on to lead normal lives and succeed in overcoming feelings of inferiority or depression. Sometimes, opting for professional counselling can help such kids overcome mental issues.


Dr. Emily Foster

Dr. Emily Foster

Dr. Emily Foster is Holistic Health Expert & Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner. With over 15 years of experience in the health care industry, Dr. Foster has dedicated her career to empowering individuals to take control of their health through natural and lifestyle-based approaches. She holds a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and is a certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner. Dr. Foster is passionate about educating the public on the benefits of natural health and sustainable living. Dr. Foster has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed journals and popular health magazines. She is a regular columnist for "Health and Wellness Today" and has been featured in "Natural Living Magazine," "Diabetes Care Journal," and "Nutrition and Health Review."

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