Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar (glucose) level to become too high.
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in children and young people. Type 2 diabetes is usually seen in adults but more young people are developing it.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are THE 4 T'S:
- 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 especially fungal infections like thrush.
If you are concerned your child may have diabetes speak to your GP (or call 111 if they are closed) urgently today. They will be able to check your child’s blood sugar level with a finger prick blood test.
Type 1 diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s own defence system (immune system) attacks the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin.
- We do not know what causes type 1 diabetes. It is not linked to lifestyle factors.
- There is no cure and it cannot be prevented.
- Type 1 diabetes is managed with injections of insulin.
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over days or weeks. It is important for diabetes to be diagnosed and treated urgently, to prevent children and young people becoming seriously unwell.
Type 1 diabetes is not common in children and is not always considered when children see a health professional.
If you think your child may have diabetes ask your GP to do a finger prick and urine test. If these results suggest diabetes they will be sent to the hospital the same day to see a paediatrician.
Type 2 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes is where the body’s cells do not react to insulin or the body does not make enough insulin.
- It is not an autoimmune condition.
- There are several risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. These include ethnicity, genetics and lifestyle.
- You can help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes with healthy eating, regular exercise and achieving a healthy body weight.
- Tablets and insulin injections may also be needed to manage type 2 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes can develop over weeks or months. The symptoms may be less obvious compared to type 1 diabetes.
For further information on diabetes