Many people think of diabetes as a problem people develop in older adulthood. However, type I diabetes, which is characterized by damage to the pancreas, is often called juvenile diabetes because it appears in childhood. Children who are obese or overweight are also at an increased risk for type II diabetes. As a parent, it's important to be on the lookout for signs that your little one needs to be tested for diabetes.
1. Extreme Hunger and Thirst
Kids' appetites can sometimes fluctuate, and it is not abnormal for kids to be very hungry some days, and less hungry on others. But if your child's appetite starts to skyrocket and become impossible to satisfy, he or she may have diabetes. Insatiable thirst is another sign of diabetes. Since the body cannot get sugar into the cells, your child remains hungry -- even when they have eaten plenty. The body must get rid of extra sugar in the urine, and making all of that urine leads to increased thirst.
2. Blurry Vision
Blurry vision is not always a sign of diabetes. Sometimes, it just means your child needs glasses. However, if your child suddenly complains of blurry vision -- or if he or she has blurry vision and also one of the other symptoms on this list -- diabetes may be to blame. Sustained high blood sugar levels can damage the optic nerve and lead to visual blurriness.
3. Sweet-Smelling Breath
Bad breath is one thing. Breath that smells like rotten fruit or a candy store is quite another. If your child's breath smells fruity, it could be because their body is not metabolizing sugar properly due to diabetes.
Children who have diabetes are often very lethargic and tired. Your child may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning and be completely unable to participate in physical activities. Just walking up the stairs may make them tired. This is because, when a person is diabetic, their cells are not getting the sugar they need to generate energy and power your child through the day.
5. Weight Loss
If your child suddenly loses weight in spite of continuing to eat, this could be due to diabetes. The body cannot use the sugar from food, so it turns to the fat stores for energy. Children with diabetes sometimes lose 10 or 20 pounds in a period of weeks, so the weight loss is impossible to overlook.
If your child is displaying any of the signs above, take him or her to your local pediatric services for sugar testing.