Nearly 210,000 children and teens in the United States have diabetes. With diabetes rates on the rise among young people, knowing the symptoms is more important than ever. Early detection is important for giving young people a head start on managing the lifelong health challenges that accompany a diabetes diagnosis.

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus in Children

A type 1 diabetes diagnosis means that a child’s body no longer produces insulin. While there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, the condition can be managed. Missing insulin is replaced using an insulin pump. Children must also learn how to properly monitor blood sugar. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children include:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Extreme hunger.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Mood changes.
  • Irritability.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Breath that smells fruity.
  • Newly developed bedwetting.
  • Weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Blurred vision.

Type 2 diabetes is also on the rise among children and teens. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that impairs the way the body uses sugar for fuel. As a result, a person with type 2 diabetes has too much sugar in the bloodstream. Long-term high blood sugar can lead to damage to the immune system, central nervous system, and other systems. Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes in kids and teens include:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Tiredness.
  • Itching genitals/yeast infections.
  • Slow wound healing.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Dry eyes.

Lifestyle modification is often the default treatment for type 2 diabetes. A person will be encouraged to use diet, exercise and monitoring of glucose levels to keep blood sugar levels stable. Medications that help to manage blood sugar can also be helpful. Some type 2 diabetes medications stimulate the pancreas to encourage natural insulin production. While there is no “cure” for type 2 diabetes, this condition can be successfully reversed with the right plan of action.

“The first step towards managing type 1 diabetes in children is understanding blood glucose levels and what the numbers mean,” according to Tandem Diabetes. It’s important for children and teens diagnosed with diabetes to know that they can still continue to do the things they enjoy in life with some proper diabetes management! In fact, many young people with diabetes participate in school activities, sports and hobbies without any problems once they understand how to stay tuned into blood sugar levels. Initiating communication with a child’s school is an important step! Taking advantage of a resource like a 504 plan to allow a child to take time to check glucose levels during class is essential for consistent management.

Diabetes in Children and Teens: What’s the First Step After a Diagnosis?

First, a child with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should be taught how to recognize signs and symptoms. Next, making a plan that involves proper management of blood sugar levels is essential for helping a youngster to live a vibrant life that isn’t slowed down by diabetes.