The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children can develop quickly. These changes are often noticed over a period as short as a few weeks. The cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown to scientists. They do know that type 1 diabetes causes the body’s immune system to destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach. Normally, a healthy immune system would only fight harmful viruses and bacteria and not destroy the cells necessary to making insulin. Some scientists believe that a risk factor for type 1 diabetes could be exposure to certain viruses, though it is thought that genetics could play a part as well.
Common Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms
If you suspect that your child may have type 1 diabetes, you will want to consult with their pediatrician right away. The most common symptoms are frequent urination and increased thirst. This happens because excess sugar is put into your child’s bloodstream, which pulls fluid out of their tissues. This makes your child thirsty, and if they drink more liquids they’ll urinate more frequently. Other common symptoms include the following:
- Extreme hunger – A lack of insulin in the blood stream will cause hunger.
- Weight loss – Weight loss can happen quickly as muscles and fat stores shrink due to a lack of sugar supply. Weight loss is often the first sign parents notice.
- Fatigue – When a child’s cells lack blood sugar, they can feel tired and lethargic.
- Irritability or unusual behavior. A child with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes may suddenly seem irritable or moody.
- Blurred vision. When blood sugar gets too high, it can pull fluid from the eyes, causing blurry vision.
- Yeast infection. A genital yeast infection can develop in girls who have type 1 diabetes, and babies of either sex can get diaper rash from yeast.
If you suspect that your child has type 1 diabetes, their pediatrician will run blood sugar tests first. If those are negative, they may suggest an A1C test, which is a glycated hemoglobin test. This type of test will show what the average blood sugar level has been for your child during the past few months. This test works by measuring the percentage of blood sugar in red blood cells.
Another type of test that can be used to detect type 1 diabetes is a fasting blood sugar test, which is usually done first thing in the morning, before a child eats or drinks anything.
A great resource to learn more about type 1 diabetes is JDRF. For additional questions or concerns about type 1 diabetes in children, consult Green Hills Pediatric Associates.
The information and content on our website should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment or advice from your doctor.