Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How do I know if my child has diabetes?

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.

39 comments:

jill. said...

That's a good idea for a post! The most popular search by which people arrive at my blog is "where do I get a haircut in Chicago" I don't really think I need a special post about that..

Anonymous said...

My daughter's most prominent symptom was overall sadness (I dislike using the word depression unless its in a true diagnosed sense). She just couldn't shake the blues. Once she was stabilized after dx, I got my little girl back!

Kim said...

Thank you for this great information.

Anonymous said...

great information. i really liked it.
thanks

kia0107 said...

My son was so thirsty that it was like an alcoholic looking for his next drink. Poor kid!

Kris said...

Thank you for the fantastic information. I have diabetes(type2) and was concerned about my child. Thank you again!

Josephine said...

Thank you very much for your post. I think my son might be diabetic. His uncle was recently diagnosed as well as a cousin, which in turn has made me more aware of the symptoms. He's only 3½ so if it's true is going to mean some real changes for the whole family.

K. said...

I came here through Google. Thanks so much for being so informative. And best of wishes to you and your beloved sons.

marshfam said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. My son has been having the same symptoms (in fact your story about your son sounds just like what has been going on with mine) he is almost 4. I don't know anything about diabetes, my mother-in-law mentioned that she thought he might need to be tested for it when she saw how thirsty he is and how skinny he is looking. I decided to start doing some research and I also found your blog through a google search and found it very informative. I'll be getting my son tested asap. Thanks again

kelly said...

My son I think may have diabetes, when he was born all he did was cry and cry, we couldn't figure it out. When he was 5 months he went into the hospital and we found out he was dehyrated. From that point on he did get better. But I alwasy feel like something isn't right, he never is happy and always seems to be struggling. He get irriable all the time. then I give him a snack and then he is better. Its not that I don't give him snacks but he seems to need more fuel to keep him going compare to his sister. When he wants a drink, he drinks it all really fast. He doesn't want more but when he wants it, he wants it now. I also find that ever 2 hours or so he has to eat and if he doesnt' he breaks down. He can't do anything until he gets food. I always say he is like 2 kids in one. Could this indicate that he may have diabetes, what is your thoughts because you have gone thru it.

Penny said...

Kelly,

I am not going to be much help to you. My best advice is to take your son to the doctor and have them do a fasting blood sugar (nothing to eat or drink beforehand).

Good luck and let me know how things go.

Chelan said...

I'm glad to find this post. Even though there is usually tons of stuff to find on the internet, it's hard to find simple explanations from people who've been there regarding diabetes. My daughter, who is 7, does not have unquenchable thirst, but she is so hungry at times that she cries, panics, is nauseated, and shakes, totally overreacting. She is constantly hungry these days. She cries whenever she goes longer than two hours without food. I'll take her to the doctor Monday morning. Thanks for your helpful post!

Emma said...

Thank you so much. My son has all of those symptooms and is nearly 3 years old. Recently he has started wetting himself lots but this could still be because of the changes in life our family is incurring...new baby, daddy was in the army and now left and moving home. Im worried though that his has gone too long without treatment as he seems to get stomach cramps when opening his bowels etc. Will be taking him to the doctors tomorrow morning. Thank you again for an explanation that i can understand x

Anonymous said...

My problem is that even though I have a 6 yr old with really low sugar levels NO ONE will check her. she became really sick and the Nurse at the emergency room said she looks like she is getting the cold that is going around her throught is a little red. gave her a script for antibiotics and sent us on our way. I am going to try again but no one listens to me. I hope my daughter gets the help she needs before she ends up in the hospital because no one cared to check her.

Jem said...

I'm 14 & I Think I Might Have Diabities.
My Symptoms
-Peeing more than 8 times a day
-Really really thirsty
-8 pound weight loss in 2 weeks
-really tired
-really irritated by everything

I should probably tell my mother.




-Thank You For This Post.(:

jodie of kingston upon hull said...

thanx this was really usefull i am totaly worried about my 1 year old son hese had a lot of these symptons and the most worrying thing is his sleeping, some times he sleeps for 15-16 hours a night at first i thaught it was a blessing that the sleepless nights were over so quik bit now its over the top im scared of taking him to my GP because im scared she will tell me something i dont wanna hear.

Anonymous said...

Thank u so much for this post! My 1 year old son has some of these symptoms. Im extremely worried, calling his doctor now. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, it has really helped me. My son is 3 and was looking on the internet today to see what can cause a child to urinate a lot (literally every 15 minutes in the past few days, plus he's getting up a lot in the night or wetting the bed) and came across an article about diabetes. My son has been really off over the past month or so, always tired (sleeps for 13 hours a night and still can't get him up) really moody and whiny, he can come in from nursery and literally eat the entire contents of the fridge, and he can drink non stop for hours. The only symptom he doesnt seem to have is weight loss, and if he has lost then it's not much as i can't tell. I think i will definitely be calling the doctors first thing in the morning though to get him tested. I'm so worried now!

Anonymous said...

I looked in your profile for your email as stated in the article but could not find it so I'll post here THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH for this simple well laid out article it was literally a life saver for us. I have 18 month old twins and about 3 weeks ago one of them just turned into a different kid he was suddenly lethargic very very sad wouldn't eat anything started wetting through is diaper and was super super thirsty all day wanted nothing but water but then at night would grab handfuls of cheerios and wolf them down we knew something was wrong but everyone kept saying it was a phase he'd get through it. About 2 weeks after that he got sick and vomited for a day and poof just like that the weight started rolling off him. We called the doctor and he couldn't be seen until the next week, so I started googling. Neither side of the family has diabetes so I knew nothing about it and I came across your little blog and he had every single symptom on your list I became frantic my husbands company shut down 3 weeks ago and we currently don't have insurance and haven't been processed for state insurance based on our paltry unemployment, yet but we called around found the cheapest doctor and took him in the same day. He tried to tell us it was a flu my husband said no sir we found a website that shows he has all the symptoms of diabetes please test him. Reluctantly the doctor did and his sugar was over 600!!! The doctor did it again THEN tested himself to make sure the machine was right. As you can imagine we were sent directly to the hospital where we spent 2 day's in ICU and found out that he was type 1 diabetic. At the time of this posting he is still in the hospital trying to get his sugars stableized and his doses correct we are learning about the disease and how to administer the insulin etc. I just want to THANK YOU again for your blog without it I may have just waited until we could get in to our regular ped and by that time he could have easily became comatose. I know this is scary and life altering but I am thankful that I have the chance to experience it with my son. And hope and pray his twin don't have it too.
Misty in Kansas-

Penny said...

Anon,
I am so glad that you found the article. I wrote it so long ago. I am sorry about your child's diagnosis,but I'm glad that you caught it early. My son has had Type 1 diabetes for 6 1/2 years now. He is a healthy, happy 9 year old who plays basketball, baseball, and soccer. Diabetes has not kept him from doing anything he wants to do. The challenges ahead of you are many but there are many resources out there for you. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. My email is pennylane5001@embarqmail.com.

Anonymous said...

hi my Son is 8 nearly 9 and I'm type 2. He has started being really teasy and emotional if he doesn't eat on time. This is more noticeable if he hasn't eaten his sandwiches at school. His last teacher said he was drinking too much but this seems to have stopped and the doc said he was prob bored at school as he's ahead of his age. Is this worth bothering the doc with or not?

Penny said...

Anon,
I cannot tell you what to do. I would go with what your gut is telling you to do. If you are Type 2, do you have a blood sugar machine? If so, you can check his sugar yourself. Fasting sugar first thing in the morning is best. I hope everything turns out well for you.

Mariya said...

This is really useful i think my baby sister might have diabetes she is always thirsty, but not with water, but with tea...and juice. Thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

Hi there, my 4 year old son was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He still on occasion wets when he sleeps, will this eventually stop? Yesterday he did it 3 times and the lil guy had normal, perhaps on the lower end blood sugar levels. I am understanding with him as before being diagnosed he had been potty trained for a year. But when does this stop, it upsets him so. Thanks Kim Gingrich

Penny said...

Kim, I really don't have an answer for you. Riley didn't wet the bed anymore after he was diagnosed. Sometimes just a change can makes kids regress for a while. If it continues to happen I would give the doctor a call and see what he says.

Also, I'm sorry about his diagnosis. But, we are almost 7 years into ours. Things are much better now. It's become our new normal. Riley is happy and healthy and plays 3 different sports. It hasn't stopped him from doing anything he wants to do.

BrandyG said...

I know firsthand that diabetes can be a life changing diagnosis, but I wanted to offer a little hope to all the parents dealing with this awful disease. It will be okay! I have 4 daughters, 2 of them are diabetics. My oldest, 10 yr old, was diagnosed with diabetes at 11 months old and then diagnosed with celiacs disease and thyroid disease at 9 yrs. Then, my third child was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome(a kidney disease) at 2 yrs, then diabetes at 3 yrs and most recently celiacs disease at 7 yrs. I know it sounds terrible, but believe it or not, anyone who doesnt know my girls, would never be able to tell they have anything wrong with them. They have adjusted so well and to them its no big deal. Of course to me its devastating, but having them be as strong as they are makes it a lot easier. Kids are so resilient and such a blessing. I thank God every day for giving me strength through them. Sorry so long, just wanted you all to know your not alone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the helpful advice! My partner has type 1 diabetes and we are currently expecting our first child together (actually, his first, my second) and I was not sure on what symptoms to look for down the track in case our lil bubs inherits the disease, so thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, it is the most helpful and succinct advice. Now I know exactly what to ask the doctor to test and what to keep an eye out for. I cant thank you enough.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post I think my son may also have diabetes hes is always thursty and eats and drinks a lot of sweet stuff and is very skinny he also recently started sleeping a lot im taking him to the drs tomorrow

Penny Ratzlaff said...

Anon, please let me know what you find out. Prayers....Penny

Trish Pham said...

Hi, thank you for your post . I came across this when I got freaked out from goggling why my 6 months drink so much water.. And everyone suggested that is a sign of diabetes . Mabye I shouldnt be speculating before seeing the doctor..but now I'm worried as hell and cant wait till Monday to take her to the doctor.

ebony wiggins said...

Hi...im worried about my daughter she is 3 years old and is always thirsty but not for water....she likes sweets a lot even thiugh i don't give it to her and urinate a lot and have started wetting the bed i am definitely going to make a appointment thanks for your advice

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. my 3 year old daughter drinks a lot and is constantly going to the toilet. i didn't think anything of it. however, recently, she has started to wet herself about 7-8 times a day, started wetting the bed and has seemed really tired and irritable. also, she has started to give off this sweet sickly smell, and no matter how many times i bathed her within half an hour it is back. i've noticed her wee smells like it too. she also keeps saying her tummy hurts her. after reading this i am now really worried and our doctors are closed for easter bank holidays. should i take her to the hospital? or wait until the doctors re opens?

Penny Ratzlaff said...

Anon,
I don't like to give medical advice over a blog, but since you mentioned the sweet smell along with a tummy ache, I would not wait for the doctor's office to reopen. If it is Type 1 diabetes it could get worse very quickly. I would take her to the hospital and be sure to tell them of all the symptoms she is having. MAKE SURE they test her sugar. Please email me at pennylane5001@embarqmail.com and let me know what you find out. I am praying.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this i've been searching for almost three hours on medical sites and they don't help. It's a whole bunch of medical mumbo jumbo i can't understand. I'm a 21 year old first time mom and my sons blood sugar seemed to be reading high at 140 before bottles. I don't know if it is cause for concern but i am now going to call his doctor. I just wanted to thank you for this post because it helped a lot i hope your son is feeling much better now that he is being monitored

Diabeteshealthcare said...

Nowdays diabetes is a fairly common disease but how do you get diabetes depend on either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body does not respond to insulin.

Anonymous said...

Hi.thank you so much 4 dis,I'v been on strict diet ever since I checked my sugar level and it was very high.I'v lost weight and I get so thirsty and hungry alwayz,am just scared of goin 2 see ma doctor...readin wat u wrote now am seeing ma doctor 2day

Anonymous said...

hi my son is 18 months old he woke up this morning red hot and lethargic,i noticed a sweet smell on his breath (my husband is type 1) and recognised the smell straight away so i tested his wee for keytones and it was trace my husband tested his blood sugars and they were 9 then 20 mins later 11, i took him to a&e department where they took his obs and the doctor near enough told me off for using my husbands blood sugar moniter? then asked me what i wanted her to do!! i felt like crying and walking out! the tested his wee and said there was infact a trace of keytones then sent me home telling me he was probably coming down with a virus, i'm not happy and will watch him over night he too is calle riley :)

Anonymous said...

My granddaughter is 3 I have noticed she drinks a lot like Gatorade juiceys I mean guzzles them down its like she is still thirsty! And eats a lot like the graduates meal with carrots chicken potato's,she will eat 3 of them,and hour later be hungry again.she is healthy and smart,but I noticed she complains with her belly hurting here lately.at school yesterday she. Said she threw up on playground.it was hot out.I am gonna make appointment can they tell you immediately and I just thought she was getting older,that was normal.