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Symptoms of diabetes in children

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children 

The most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children are:

  • Toilet — Going to the toilet a lot to pass urine, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier nappies in babies. Getting up in the night to go to the toilet.  
  • Thirsty — Being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst. Your child may ask for a drink more often, finish drinks very quickly or you may notice they generally drink more. 
  • Tired — Feeling more tired than usual. Having less energy than normal, not playing as often, less energy for sports  
  • Thinner — Losing weight or looking thinner than usual.

You may also notice your child getting more infections than usual.

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to come on within a matter of days or weeks and you should get urgent medical help if you notice any of these symptoms.  

The most common type of diabetes in children is type 1 diabetes. But children can also develop type 2 diabetes or another type of diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children 

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children are the same as they are for type 1 diabetes, but they may be less obvious and develop more slowly, for example over weeks or months.  

But you may still notice some of the symptoms listed above. 

Symptoms of diabetes in children are the same as they are for adults but they may present differently such as a child not wanting to play games as often due to having less energy. Find out what other symptoms your child may display if they have diabetes.  

Research has shown that there are several risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. These include ethnicity, genetics, and lifestyle. In some cases type 2 diabetes can be prevented, unlike type 1 diabetes. 

What to do if you think your child has diabetes 

If your child has any of the above signs or symptoms of diabetes, you should take them straight to the doctor and insist on a blood glucose test. If a quick and simple finger prick test indicates high blood sugar, your GP will refer your child to a specialist diabetes team or hospital and the test will be sent to the lab to diagnose diabetes.  

If symptoms of diabetes in children are missed 

Too many children and young people are not diagnosed with type 1 diabetes until they are in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) a life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention.  

If a child has type 2 diabetes and it isn’t diagnosed for a  long time or they also become unwell with an infection, they may be at risk of something called hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS) or DKA. And high blood sugar can start to damage parts of their body. If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, we’re here to support you. We have lots of information and if you have any questions, you can speak to one of our trained advisors on our helpline.

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