No parent wants to think that their child has a lifelong medical condition that will completely change how they live. But it’s important to be aware of the medical conditions your child can develop so you can notice symptoms before they become extremely sick. One medical condition that you should be mindful of is type 1 diabetes. Keep reading to learn the symptoms of type 1 diabetes so you can tell if your child has it.
One of the type 1 diabetes symptoms you should watch for, especially if you have a family history of diabetes, is constant thirst. On average, a child between 1 and 4 should drink about 4 cups of liquid a day, ideally water and milk. 4–8-year-olds should drink about 5 cups, and children older than 8 should drink 7–8 cups. If you notice your child drinking more than their age range and activity level suggests, something could be wrong, and it could be diabetes.
This is because when your child has diabetes, their kidneys are working extra hard to process glucose since their body is no longer producing enough insulin. As the kidneys struggle to accommodate the extra glucose, some of it can end up excreted in their urine, taking fluid out of the tissue in your child’s body as it goes. The more fluid your child loses, the thirstier they’ll be.
As your child drinks more to replace the fluids pulled from their body, and as the glucose continues to do that pulling, your child can experience an increased need to urinate. Their body is trying to get rid of the extra fluid from the water and the fluid removed from their tissues. Depending on the age of your child, they may take themselves to the restroom more, but younger children who were recently potty trained or still potty training may start having more accidents.
Noticing this need is what helped one child, McKinley Bothel, get a lifesaving type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and it could save your child as well.
Your child’s weight can fluctuate as they grow, but one of the symptoms to look out for in diabetic children is weight loss. Unintentional weight loss outside of what a child would typically experience from other factors, such as growth spurts and changes in activity levels, can mean that your child has diabetes. This is because their body is no longer producing enough insulin, which processes the sugar they eat. Since their body can’t process that sugar for energy, they can’t keep their weight on or gain more.
While there are other type 1 diabetes symptoms to look for in your child, the three big ones you’ll probably notice first are constant thirst, increased urination, and weight loss. If these symptoms present themselves, especially together or coupled with fatigue, appetite changes, and irritability, then seek out a medical professional for assistance and an official diagnosis.