Do you know the 4 Ts of Type 1 diabetes?

As many as one in four children and young people are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when they are in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – a life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention. For children under five years old, it’s as many as one in three. It’s a frightening time for everyone involved.

That’s why we're raising awareness of the four most common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.

We believe that everyone who knows a child, of any age, should be aware of the 4 Ts of Type 1 diabetes, remember them and know what to do if they spot them.

What are the 4 Ts?

  • Toilet
    Going to the toilet a lot, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier nappies in babies
  • Thirsty
    Being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst
  • Tired
    Feeling more tired than usual
  • Thinner
    Losing weight or looking thinner than usual

By making sure children and young people get a quick diagnosis and early treatment, we can avoid them becoming seriously ill with DKA.

What to do if a child shows signs of the 4 Ts

If your child has any of these signs and symptoms, you should take them straight to the doctor and insist on a test for Type 1 diabetes there and then.

All it takes is a quick and simple finger-prick blood test, which your GP can carry out straight away. If the result indicates Type 1 diabetes, the GP should refer the child to a specialist paediatric diabetes team the same day so they get immediate treatment to bring their diabetes under control and to prevent DKA.

How can you help?

Put up posters and flyers in your area

A really easy way to raise awareness. Simply download and print or order our 4 Ts posters and flyers to put up around where you live. You could try displaying them at your local supermarket, community centre, doctor’s surgery or school. You can order 4 Ts posters from our online shop, or by calling 0800 585 088 (Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm).

Download our campaign materials:

Share our Type 1 aware video

Together with JDRF UK, we have produced #Type1aware – a short video, which aims to raise awareness among parents, carers, teachers and healthcare professionals, of the signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. Watch the video and share the link by email, or on Facebook or Twitter (http://www.diabetes.org.uk/type1aware). You can also share it with local politicians and ask your local school to encourage parents to watch it.

Send a letter

Make your community aware of the 4 Ts by downloading our template ‘campaign letter to editor’ (Word, 34KB) and sending it to your local newspaper. If you’re comfortable doing so, you could add your own personal experiences. If your letter gets printed, more people will know more about Type 1 diabetes, and be able to spot signs and symptoms.

Or you could use our template ‘campaign letter to doctor’ (Word, 35KB) to write to your doctor, and ask them to order and display posters for their surgery. We have templates for both children and parents.

Become a member

If your child or someone you know has been diagnosed with diabetes, we are here to help. We can provide support and connect you with others to help the whole family manage the condition. By joining us, you will support our work and help us campaign on behalf of all people affected by and at risk of diabetes.

To find out more about joining us, got to our membership page.

What next?

The 4 Ts of diabetes is just the beginning. Over the next five years, we will be campaigning non-stop to tackle the biggest problems that children and young people with Type 1 diabetes, and their parents, have told us they face on a daily basis.

We will be campaigning to ensure all children and young people receive high quality care, so that they have the best chance of a happy and healthy future free from complications. We’ll also campaign to address the issues that children with diabetes face at school, and the problems faced when young people move over into adult care.

We’ve produced a simple care pathway poster to help healthcare professionals diagnose Type 1 diabetes. It’s available to order from our online shop, or you can download and print a copy here: 'Diagnosing Children Pathway' (PDF, 476KB).

We won’t stop campaigning until permanent improvements are made to the care and services that children and young people receive, and until the health outcomes they can expect are as bright as the future they deserve.

Have you got a story to share about our 4Ts campaign?

Maybe you, your child or someone you know has been recently diagnosed or helped after seeing the campaign? We'd love to hear from you. Get in touch – email website@diabetes.org.uk to share your story.