Recognizing these 3 symptoms of diabetes will save your child's life

Get educated about the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

Recognizing these 3 symptoms of diabetes will save your child's life

Get educated about the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
  • If your child is sick, the last thing on your mind would be that he or she has diabetes. Unfortunately, it may also be the last thing on your doctor's mind.

  • Far too many children are going undiagnosed because symptoms appear to be just like the flu. By the time the doctor makes an accurate diagnosis, it's sometimes too late. Children are dying because they are not diagnosed correctly.

  • There is an easy way to stop this from happening and it starts by educating yourself.

  • Background

  • Did you know? 1 in 11 people have some form of diabetes. #knowledgedrop #didyouknow #beyondtype1

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  • Diabetes occurs when the body's autoimmune system attacks the pancreas, destroying the insulin-producing cells. These cells break down the sugars in the food we eat and drink into glucose, which the body uses for energy. At each meal, a diabetic must check their blood for their glucose level and inject the necessary insulin so the sugars they eat can be broken down.

  • Normal glucose levels are between 90 and 120. If diabetes is left untreated, the sugar or glucose levels in the blood can skyrocket. The organs in the body start to shut down, known as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). When a diabetic goes into DKA, it can lead to coma or death. DKA can happen to anyone who has diabetes, though it's extremely rare for type 2 diabetics.

  • Know the difference

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  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are very different from each other. When someone talks about diabetes, the majority of the time they are referring to type 2; 95% of people with diabetes have type 2. Type 2 occurs in adults whereas type 1 is found in children and adolescents. Type 2 diabetes is onset by obesity, unhealthy eating and a lack of exercise whereas type 1 is not.

  • It's still unclear to doctors and scientists exactly how type 1 is caused, but the consensus is that it is hereditary. The main difference between the type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that the body still produces insulin in type 2 diabetics. The pancreas is simply dead in type 1 diabetics. Both need insulin in order to survive. However, the status of the pancreas in Type 2 diabetics means symptoms can be eliminated through healthy eating and exercise. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes diagnoses is increasing

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  • While only 5% of people with diabetes have type 1, the majority are children and adolescents. That number is increasing. The number of kids under 20 who were diagnosed with type 1 rose 23% between 2001 and 2009. Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of deaths in the United States.

  • Now more than ever, recognizing these three major symptoms of type 1 diabetes has become a matter of life and death:

  • 1. Frequent urination

  • Waking up multiple times during the night to go to the bathroom isn't a good thing. Without the insulin necessary to break down the sugar or glucose levels in the blood, the body seeks out other ways to break down the sugars. It does this by taking fluids from cells into the bloodstream and sending it to the kidneys. This process overworks the kidneys and causes the body to urinate more often than normal.

  • 2. Constant thirst/hunger

  • If your child is constantly drinking liquids and urinating often, it's a definite sign something is wrong. The body is thirstier because it requires more fluids. This irregular process of breaking down the sugar will also make the body hungrier. If your child eats more than normal and is still hungry while not gaining weight, call your doctor.

  • 3. Rapid weight loss

  • For adolescents, it's easy to mistake weight loss as a symptom of puberty. This isn't always the case. During puberty, weight loss continues until the body reaches a healthy weight. A child who has type 1 diabetes will continue to lose weight past this point. Because the body cannot produce insulin to break down the sugars, it eats away at the fat in the body. The fat helps process the sugars into energy the body needs to survive.

  • Recognizing the signs

  • Unfortunately, many parents and doctors miss these symptoms. For my brother, it was sheer happenstance that he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, all thanks to a doctor who knew the signs and had him take a blood test. His diagnosis was an incredibly educational process for my whole family; we all learned what needed to change so he could survive.

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  • For five-year-old Kycie Terry, her diagnosis came too late. Her parents initially thought she had the flu. Doctors said she had strep throat and sent her home with antibiotics. When those weren't working, a blood test was finally done to reveal she had glucose levels over 1100. She was life-flighted to the hospital where she experienced two separate seizures as a result of her extremely high blood sugar. She received extensive brain damage from the seizures and subsequently passed away five months later.

  • Kycie's parents now do all they can to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes through their Facebook page to help educate parents about the symptoms.

  • Once you know the signs, you're more likely to prevent differential diagnoses and even death from happening to other children like Kycie. It's up to you to make a difference.

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Callie has two Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Communication and when she isn’t writing, she’s reading. Some of her favorite things include Harry Potter, all things Disney, road trips, and telling stories.

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