8 symptoms of diabetes in children and teens you need to know about

Posted September 22

Diabetes has become increasingly easier to manage through the years, but if left untreated or undiscovered, it is deadly. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to And while less than one percent of children and teenagers have diabetes, those numbers are on the rise. Know these symptoms to spot them in your child before it’s too late.


1. Abnormal thirst Diabetes makes sugar build up in your bloodstream, which in turn pulls fluid from the tissues, according to Mayo Clinic. Noticing an extremely thirsty child is one of the easiest symptoms to spot.

2. Frequent peeing Since your child is drinking so much, naturally bathroom trips will become more frequent.

3. Blurry vision It’s possible your child needs glasses, but it could also indicate diabetes. Sugar pulls the lenses' fluid away from the eye, which makes focusing difficult.

4. Moodiness If your child is suddenly grumpier, it could mean they have undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. (Obviously, many other things besides diabetes can make your child suddenly moody, so consult a doctor before you assume it’s diabetes.)

5. Losing weight Sudden weight loss can occur because your body doesn’t have the energy sugar supplies. Without it, your fat stores and muscles shrink.

6. Intense hunger Your child’s diabetic body is crying for energy, because without enough insulin, the sugar is not moving through to the cells. Because of this, your child will be hungry – even after eating.

7. Itchy skin Diabetes can make your skin itchy through poor circulation, or because of yeast infections, according to the American Diabetes Association.

8. Exhaustion Unusual tiredness can occur in children with undiagnosed diabetes; the lack of sugar in their cells can make them have no energy.

What do you do if your child has these symptoms?

If you notice more than one of these reoccuring symptoms, take your child to a doctor. The doctor can determine whether it’s necessary to test for diabetes.

How do they test for diabetes?

There are actually several tests, but in children they often do a random blood sugar test. This tests for type 1 diabetes, checking to see if the blood sugar level is high, according to Mayo Clinic.

Testing can also include an A1C test, which measures your child’s average blood glucose, or the fasting blood sugar test. Other tests will likely be run to determine if it is type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Will my child ever be able to eat cake again?

Thankfully, managing diabetes is becoming easier, and kids with diabetes can do the same things as those without it – including the choice to eat sugar. Yes, you will need to plan what else they eat to make sure they are only getting certain foods in moderation, but limiting sugar is healthy for any child, not just for a child with diabetes.

How will life change?

Likely, you will have frequent doctor visits at first, according to the Mayo Clinic. These visits are to make sure you (and your child) know how to manage diabetes and to test the blood sugar levels.

You will also have to test blood sugar and, as mentioned above, plan meals for healthier living. But these are all things your doctor will help navigate you through.

What happens if diabetes goes undiagnosed?

Diabetes is horrible if not managed or diagnosed. Long-term effects can range anywhere from cataracts, kidney failure, nerve damage to strokes and heart attacks.

But many children and adults manage diabetes and prevent such horrible side effects. Be aware of the symptoms in your children so you can prevent any fatal complications.



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