It is important to know the symptoms diabetes patients suffer before they are diagnosed.  Watching your child become a Type 1 Diabetic is scary, but being aware of what to look for will help you know when to seek medical attention.  You will not be able to notice the signs of Type 1 Diabetes overnight as they will become more pronounced over several weeks.  At least that is what happened before our son was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus at the age of 2.  If you find yourself in a similar situation and wonder what could be causing a series of behaviors that seem to have come out of nowhere, you should consider the possibility that your child is now one of the millions of children with diabetes. 

Excessive Thirst

Children with Type 1 Diabetes will become very thirsty.  One of the reasons for this is the abundance of ketones that have accumulated in the body.  The body needs to rid itself of this toxic byproduct of fat burning so it causes the diabetic to become extremely thirsty.  Many diabetics describe this thirst as unquenchable.  With my son it began by asking for water at bedtime.  Eventually he was begging for water at all times, and he was able to drink an entire 20 ounce bottle of water in one gulp.

Frequent Urination

Because of the excessive thirst you can bet there will be a frequent need to urinate.  With young children with diabetes like my son, this can be a big mess.  At night his diapers could not hold the amount of urine that he was producing.  In fact, the last night before we took him to the emergency room, he soaked an entire queen size bed.  The need to urinate can be unbearable, so if you see this in your child, Type 1 Diabetes should be considered.

Increased Appetite

Because the body cannot process sugar for energy it thinks it needs to ingest more food.  This can lead to an increased appetite that you did not expect to see.

Weight Loss

Despite the increased appetite, an undiagnosed Type 1 diabetic will still lose weight.  Since the body cannot use sugar for energy, it primarily uses fat as its energy source.  As you would expect, this increased consumption of fat will cause a child with diabetes to lose weight.  My son did not actually lose weight, but on the day of his diagnosis he weighed the same as he did 5 months prior, which is unusual for a two-year-old.

Increased Irritability

Our son became increasingly irritable as his undiagnosed diabetes progressed.  Still today, we are clued in to the fact that his blood sugar is too high if he suddenly becomes extremely argumentative and irritable.

Lethargic Attitude

Our typically playful two-year-old son became withdrawn in social situations.  He would stand in the corner with his sippy cup and watch all of the other kids play.  He had almost no energy to play with his friends.

Blurry Vision

Blurry vision can be a difficult symptom to see in younger diabetes patients since they may not be able to tell you that something is wrong with their eyesight.  But older kids might see a change in their vision.

Tests That Can Be A Clue To Type 1 Diabetes

If you start to notice some of these symptoms diabetes patients will show, there are two tests that can be given to check for diabetes.  The first is checking for ketones with ketone sticks that can found at just about any local pharmacy.  The test is easy and painless and will immediately show the level of ketones in the body.  The second test is to check the glucose level in your child's blood.  It requires a finger prick and some diabetic supplies which can most likely be borrowed from a friend or family member that is a diabetic.  Each of these tests can help tell you if you need to take a trip to the emergency room or if you can put your mind at ease.

When In Doubt, Seek Medical Attention

Type 1 Diabetes is not a disease that should be taken lightly.  There is no cure for the disease, and it requires a daily regimen of blood checks and insulin injections.  Putting off seeing the doctor will not make the disease go away.  If treatment is not given quickly enough diabetic ketoacidosis can set in which can result in a much more serious and critical situation.  So if you have even the slightest worry that your child is now one of the millions of children with diabetes you should visit your doctor or emergency room immediately.  You also might want to pack a bag, because if your child is a diabetic, he or she will be admitted to the hospital for a few days. 

Living with diabetes is not easy.  But it is manageable.  Knowing the symptoms diabetes patients display will help you down the path of your new journey.