Seven million people develop Diabetes every year. Type I Diabetes can strike people of any age, even babies, so if your child has any of the symptoms listed below, seek medical attention.

Type I Diabetes
Type I Diabetes is an autoimmune disease whose cause is unclear. Scientists theorize that it is a combination of genetic and environmental triggers. You are more likely to be diagnosed with Type1 Diabetes if you have a sibling or relative with the disease, but do not be complacent with symptoms just because there is no family history. In my son’s case the endocrinologist pointed to the other autoimmune diseases in our family such as arthritis and hypothyroidism as indicators he had diabetes before the blood work confirmed his diagnosis.

Our bodies convert food into glucose (sugar) that fuels our cells to do their jobs. For our cells to access this fuel they need a hormone called insulin that is produced in the pancreas. If the insulin producing cells in the pancreas stop functioning (Type I or Juvenile Diabetes), sugar levels in the blood rise and the body begins to waste because it cannot access this critical fuel. Symptoms such as weight loss, drowsiness or lethargy, increased thirst and frequent urination appear as the body tries desperately to flush itself of this excess sugar. These symptoms can often be misread as the flu. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, the disease progresses and symptoms worsen, sometimes quickly, leading to unconsciousness and possibly death.

For babies and kids, overloaded diapers accompanied by weight loss should set off an alarm that you need to have your child tested. Bedwetting for children who have been nighttime trained for a while is also a red flag. The increased drinking can be harder to catch if your child is very active or the weather is warm and you can justify the increased water consumption. If anyone who spends time with your child comments that they have been using the bathroom frequently, investigate medically.

Type II Diabetes
The majority of people with Diabetes are affected by Type II Diabetes, a metabolic disorder where the body still produces insulin but can no longer use it effectively. Typically, but not always, this form of Diabetes is diagnosed in people over the age of 40 and is caused by lack of exercise and a poor diet. Type II is increasingly being diagnosed in children due to our rising obesity epidemic. Some people with this form can manage the disease with diet and lifestyle changes and some require insulin.

If you or your child exhibit any of the listed symptoms, see a medical professional who can test your urine and then send you for blood work if sugar is detected in your urine. Do not delay because every hour your body is exposed to abnormally high blood sugar, organs such as your heart, kidneys and eyes are being impacted.

Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sugar in the urine
  • Fruity odor on the breath
  • Heavy or labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting (especially in children)
  • Abdominal pain

Sue LeBreton is a parenting health and fitness journalist. Her son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes five years ago. He is a happy, thriving young boy thanks to his insulin pump therapy.