Almost 95 percent children below 16 diagnosed with diabetes suffer from type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. It is a type of autoimmune disease. It develops when the immune cells of the body destroys the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. The sugar level in the blood rises, as there is insufficient insulin to help the body cells absorb glucose from the blood.
The exact cause of juvenile diabetes is not yet clear. Health experts speculate a role of genes and environmental factors in triggering destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. As children with diabetes will live with the condition for several years longer than adults that develop diabetes during adulthood, identifying the diabetes symptoms in juveniles at the early stage is beneficial for the wellbeing of the child for the rest of the life.
Unlike adult diabetes, symptoms of diabetes in children develop rapidly. Within weeks, parents are able to identify most of the symptoms of juvenile diabetes.
Diabetes Symptoms in Juveniles
Extreme Thirst and Frequent Urination
Increased thirst is a classic symptom of diabetes. When too much sugar accumulates in the blood, fluid is drawn from the body tissues to dilute the urine to enable excretion of the excess sugar. Loss of fluid makes the child thirsty. Increased thirst is also associated with increased urination frequency.
Sudden increase in hunger is a common symptom of diabetes in children. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body cells. When insulin deficiency impairs glucose absorption in the blood cells, the body tissues cannot meet their energy needs. The glucose-starved cells trigger hunger signals that prompt the diabetic child to increase food intake.
However, extreme hunger will not push up the body weight of the child. Rapid unexplained loss of body weight is a classic symptom of type 1 diabetes.
Calorie is lost through excretion of sugar. Weight loss is also attributed to breakdown of proteins and fats to meet the energy requirements of the body in the absence of glucose.
Fatigue is a common symptom of sugar deprivation. When the body cells do not get enough sugar to produce energy, the child will become tired easily.
Persistent stomach pain for a few weeks can be a symptom of diabetes in children. Diabetes affects the gastrointestinal tract, which may delay stomach emptying. The condition, known as diabetic gastroparesis, causes bloating, feeling of stomach fullness after eating a small amount of food, nausea and abdominal pain.
Children with undiagnosed diabetes may experience horrible headaches when the blood sugar is too high.
Unusual behavioral problems can be a sign of juvenile diabetes. Too much sugar in the blood is associated with irritation and mood problems in children.
Excess blood sugar increases the risk of developing yeast infections. Babies with undiagnosed diabetes are prone to diaper rashes. Diabetic girls are susceptible to genital yeast infection.
Diabetes may cause swelling of the lenses of the eyes. As a result, the lenses lose their ability to focus correctly, leading to blurred vision.