Children Health

Symptoms of childhood Diabetes: Signs to look out for

Lopamudra Saha

The occurrence of diabetes in kids is increasing day by day. India is the home to the largest population of children along with this comes a heavy burden of children suffering from diseases.

We are aware that Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) occurs in children and adolescents, but did you know that some children are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM)?

As per reports, the incidence of diabetes is increasing worldwide by 2 to 5% yearly. As per the Diabetes Atlas 2017, there are 1,28,500 children with T2DM living in India.

According to a study in India, 1.47% of the 32,047 school students were suspected to have T1DM. Along with that, the prevalence of T2DM is also increasing among children.

Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder that can be treated with the help of proper medicine, diet and lifestyle. An early diagnosis of diabetes is important especially in the case of children and adolescents.

In this blog, we will discuss diabetes in children, symptoms of childhood diabetes, its treatment and how to cope with it. So, let me start by telling you the diagnostic tests that are done for diabetes.

A child covering her eyes with her fingers.
Coping with diabetes can be difficult but not impossible.

1. Glycosylated haemoglobin test (HbA1c)

2. Fasting blood sugar test (FBS)

3. Random blood sugar test (RBS)

4. Oral Glucose tolerance test

For this test, after doing the fasting blood sugar test you need to drink a glucose solution of 75 grams of glucose in 250 ml of water. Then after 2 hours, the blood sample will be taken, from these reports, we will get the tolerance of glucose in the body.

After the diagnosis of diabetes by performing these tests, further, the type is confirmed by performing another set of tests. The set includes the following tests:

a. C-peptide test

C-peptide is released along with insulin from the pancreas. Impaired functioning of the pancreas will result in reduced production of C-peptide. The test is used to measure the total amount of C-peptide. Low levels of C-peptide confirms the diagnosis of T1DM.

b. Ketone test

Ketone is a breakdown product of fat. The presence of ketone bodies in urine is an indication of T1DM. The presence of ketones in the urine is fatal and requires immediate medical supervision.

Broadly, these tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. After the diagnosis, your healthcare professional will advise you to start with insulin and certain medications based on your test results.

After getting the diagnosis you must be focusing on your child’s treatment and other modifications to reduce it. For that, you should first know the risk factors so that they can be reduced or prevented further.

Make your child’s health a priority if you notice any changes in his health and get him tested today through an at-home full body checkup by Zyla.

  • Presence of autoantibodies: T1DM is an autoimmune disorder where our immune system starts producing antibodies against our own cells. In such cases, the chances of developing T1DM are high in children.
  • Age: Age is an important risk factor for children, the chance of development of T1DM is more in children of age 4–14 years old.
  • Viral infections: As per research, if a child has a viral infection like mumps, coxsackie, measles, it can trigger the risk of developing T1DM.
  • Preterm baby: As per studies, prematurely born babies (before 37 weeks of gestational age) have a 21% higher risk of having T1DM.

Let us look at some risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) in children!

  • Less physical activity: Childhood is the best time for playing and proper physical activity. During this playing, the body uses glucose as a source of energy which helps to control the blood glucose level and maintain proper weight. So less physical activity leads to an increase in weight and increases the risk of diabetes in childhood or adolescence.
  • Family history: If a parent or sibling has T2DM, then it increases the risk for the child to have diabetes.
  • Preterm baby: As per studies premature born babies (before 37 weeks of gestational age) have a 37% higher risk of having T2DM.
  • Birth weight and gestational diabetes: Low birth weight babies and babies who are born to a mother who had gestational diabetes, are more prone to getting diabetes at a young age.

Along with risk factors, It’s also important to know about what causes diabetes in children, in order to be able to prevent and manage it properly.

If you want to know more about the causes of diabetes, you can read our blog- What causes diabetes? Now let us now take a look at some of the symptoms of diabetes in children!

  • Increased urination: If your child has T2DM, then he/ she may urinate more frequently than before. When there is an excess amount of sugar in the blood the excessive sugar goes to urine followed by water, which causes increased urination.

Even at night time, your child may need to get up to urinate multiple times. Some parents also observe bedwetting for that reason. Bedwetting is a common symptom for children with diabetes.

  • Excessive thirst: A child having diabetes may experience excessive thirst which can be due to excessive urination as there is dehydration in the body.
Having excessive thirst is a common symptom of diabetes
  • Increased hunger: As a diabetic, there is either less insulin being produced (T1DM) or cells that are less receptive to insulin (T2DM) leading to less glucose entering the cells from the blood. This causes the body to falsely read it as hunger, and lead to increased eating.
  • Excessive fatigue: A child having high blood sugar levels can experience excessive tiredness and sleepiness throughout the day.
  • Sudden weight loss: If your child suddenly experiences weight loss, it can be a symptom of diabetes.

A proper explanation of symptoms experienced with different types of diabetes is given in our blog- The common signs and symptoms of diabetes.

Diabetic ketoacidosis further leads to symptoms like hyperglycemia (high blood glucose level), hyperketonemia (high levels of ketone in the body), severe vomiting, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance.

Diabetic ketoacidosis should be treated immediately as it is a medical emergency to prevent further complications.

2. Hypoglycemia

It is very important to monitor blood sugar levels on a regular basis. It is most common for T1DM children as they are on insulin. Children up to 5 years are at high risk of hypoglycemia.

They can experience symptoms like dizziness, excessive sweating, if the blood sugar level goes down very lower side there can be a complete blackout as well.

3. Mental disturbances

Sometimes having negative comments from others, getting bullied for having diabetes can cause these disturbances.

Now let’s look at some long term complications of diabetes that happen when symptoms of childhood diabetes are overlooked.

1. Kidney disease

2. Eye problems

3. Nerve problems

4. Heart-related problems

Start your child’s health journey today and download the Zyla app. This way, these complications can be easily prevented.

1. Be physically active

Always motivate them to be active throughout the day. Whenever your child is doing some physical activity try to be with the child and do some physical activity as well to motivate the child.

2. Weight management

3. Proper diet

More colour in the plate means it is high on vitamins and minerals, which is very helpful for your health. Limit intake of sweets, sweetened beverages, baked items, juices, deep-fried foods, junk foods, fast foods.

To know more, read our blog 8 Types of foods to give up with diabetes: A complete list.

Watch what your kid’s eating!

4. Mindful eating

Treatment for T1DM

Based on your sugar levels and diagnosis, the right insulin and insulin units are prescribed to you by your doctor. There are different types of insulin available and they vary from each other based on their peak time.

Here is what you need to know:

Treatment for T2DM

Generally, children are first started with metformin, there are different types of oral medication as well. The doctor will suggest medicine based on your child’s fasting and post-meal sugar level to manage it further. There are different types of oral medicines like:

  • Biguanides: Metformin
  • Sulfonylureas: Glipizide, Glimepiride
  • SGLT 2 inhibitors: Canagliflozin, Dapagliflozin
  • DPP4 inhibitors: Sitagliptin, Linagliptin
  • Thiazolidinediones: Pioglitazone

For detailed information on medicines, you can read our blog- Which is the best medicine for diabetes? And if you’re seeking treatment for your diabetes, you can enrol in our program through our site or you can download the Zyla app as well.

Take medicines and insulin dosage as per the doctor’s advice, always try to avoid any kind of self-medication. Always try to consult the doctor before starting and discontinuing any medicine or insulin.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10, there was sadness and many negative thoughts in me. Even when I was bullied in school, people used to ask me how did you get diabetes as a child? But my parents helped me understand this is something I need to continue to cope with all through my life.

Let us look at some tips that can help us deal with stress a little better:

1. Manage stress

2. Reading journals

3. Motivating articles

4. Following a proper routine

5. Connect with diabetes care team

It is important to remember how diabetes occurs and not take on any blame for the condition. Here are some tips to cope up with and help your kids to cope with:

1. Connect with others

2. Always connect with medical practitioners

3. Study and learn

4. Always connect with your kid

Listen to your kid! Acknowledge his/ her thoughts.

5. Motivate

6. Inform school

In school, the teachers and caregivers should be aware of it, so that they can allow them to have foods every 2–3 hours and can be aware of hypoglycemia or blood sugar episodes and symptoms as well, so that if anytime sugar level goes down then they can properly take care to prevent further complications.

Now you know having diabetes in childhood is not a curse or a topic to be ashamed of and you are not alone in this journey. If your child has symptoms of childhood diabetes, then start the treatment immediately.

You have to become the strength of your child. Your child can have a healthy life with a proper diet, physical activity and medicines.

If you are looking for a diabetes care team to guide you and help your child holistically to manage diabetes and prevent further complications, you can download Zyla app.

With Zyla’s amazing panel of doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists and psychologists, we can help you fight diabetes and have a better overall quality of life.

Stay healthy!

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