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How do I know if my child has diabetes?

Posted Sep 12 2008 11:55am 1 Comment

My usual blog-readers (if I have any) will probably not find this post of very much interest.

This post is for those of you who may have found this blog through a search engine.

The most popular search that I have seen by which people find my blog is: “How do I know if my son/child has diabetes?” or “What if my son/child has diabetes?”

So, I thought that today I’d try to answer those questions.

First, the signs and symptoms of Type I diabetes:

1) Increased thirst: When someone has Type 1 diabetes excess sugar builds up in their blood stream. The high level of sugar in the blood pulls water from the body’s tissue, which makes them thirsty.

2) Increased urination: Because of the increase in thirst, they are drinking more fluids, which in turn, results in more trips to the restroom. This also may lead to bed wetting in children that do not normally wet the bed.

3) Extreme hunger: In Type 1 diabetes, people no longer produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone that causes sugar or glucose to enter cells. Glucose is what gives your cells the energy that it needs to perform the functions for your body. Because someone with Type 1 is not producing enough insulin to “feed” their cells, the food never reaches your tissues.

4) Weight loss: Even though people with Type 1 may be eating more, they will often lose weight. This is because the body’s cells are not receiving glucose. Because of this, cells die and muscle tissue and fat stores shrink, and body weight declines.

5) Blurred vision: A high level of sugar in the blood pulls fluid from all of the body’s tissues, including the lenses of the eyes. This affects a person’s ability to focus.

6) Fatigue: Because a person’s cells are deprived of sugar or glucose, they become tired and irritable.

A couple of other things that I have heard are: Diaper rashes that won’t heal with normal treatment. And, vaginal yeast infections in girls that have not yet reached puberty.


What finally got me to take my son to the doctor was his increased thirst. He would drain full glasses of water and juice only to beg for more. It wasn’t just a casual thirst either. He would beg for juice like his life depended on it.

Along with that, he began to wet the bed. This, I didn’t find too unusual. He was only 3 and even though he was potty trained, he had just recently begun to sleep through the night without a pull-up. I just thought he hadn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.

When I did take him to the Dr, I found that he had lost 3 pounds. And, I never even noticed. Three pounds is quite a drop for a 3 year old.

And, irritable, yes he was. But, he was 3…

And, he did seem to be more tired than usual.

Thinking about it now puts a knot in my stomach.

If you have any suspicion at all that your child might have Type 1 diabetes, you should call their regular physician. He or she will be better able to advise you of what you need to do.

If Type 1 diabetes goes untreated long enough it can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA. DKA is caused when chemicals called ketones build up in the person’s blood stream. Ketones can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fruity-smelling breath, breathing problems, or loss of consciousness.

Some tests that may be performed to diagnose your child with Type 1 diabetes are:

---a urine sample may be taken to test for sugar or ketones in the urine

---a blood sample may be taken either by a finger prick or drawn from their arm to check to see how much sugar they have in their blood (usually a sugar higher than 127 when they haven't had anything to eat or drink for at least 4 hours or a random sugar higher than 200 is cause for concern)

---an insulin test can be done to detect the level of insulin in their body

---a C-peptide test can be done; C-peptide is a by-product of insulin production

For Riley, I tested his sugar at home first. I am a home health nurse and I have a machine I use to check my patient’s sugars. When I used this, it registered too high to read. That meant his sugar was over 500. I also used my dad’s machine, which registered too high to read also.

When we arrived at the doctor’s office the first thing they did was have Riley urinate in a cup. They tested his urine for sugar and found a large amount. Then, they did a finger prick to test the amount of sugar in his blood. It was 574. (Normal is usually considered 80-120)

From those two tests, it was determined that he did in fact have Type 1 diabetes. He was immediately admitted to the hospital. There they did test his C-peptide levels. And it was there that our journey with this disease began.

If your child does end up having diabetes, know that you and they are not alone. Every year 13,000 children are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. There are over 1 millions American adults and children that are living happy, normal lives with this disease.

The task will seem daunting, but you’ll be OK. I promise. And your kid, they’ll probably do a lot better than you will.

I recommend these resources to get started with understanding this disease and how to best treat it.


Children With Diabetes

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

And, if you just feel the need to talk, email me. My address is in my profile.

Comments (1)
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this sounds like my daughter who is 2 years old to a t, i am now going to take her to see her doctor, ppl alwats say terrible 2's ect ect but the tiredness and drinking must mean more than terrible 2's the moods she has because she is tired and irritable and realoly wearing me down, anyway thanks and it is surly worth checking out jennie mum to 2 yr old olivia x
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