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“Daneman, Denis. “Diabetes-related mortality.” (2001): 801-802.”
A few statistics on diabetes will perhaps open our eyes to the importance of watching out for this disease, which can at times prove fatal too. Global diabetes prevalence would rise from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030, and diabetes prevalence would 19.9 million in the US itself by 2025.
Apart from this, diabetes is also credited with being one of the leading causes of blindness, heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke, and lower limb amputation. All these statistics bring home the point that diabetes is not something that can be taken lightly.
Catching The Disease Early Is Good
The silver lining is that, if it is diagnosed, and treated, diabetes is a disease that can be managed well. Recent studies have proved that the cumulative survival was 98% at 10 years and 79.6% at 30 years with long-term mortality rates observed in type 1 diabetic patients diagnosed before age 18 years. The significant improvement in the survival rates in the more recently diagnosed individuals are attributed to better glycemic and blood pressure control resulting from the availability of blood glucose monitoring, HbA1c assays, and newer antihypertensive agents.[ref]Daneman, Denis. “Diabetes-related mortality.” (2001): 801-802.[ref]
Catching diabetes early would mean that parents and teachers should be aware of the symptoms of diabetes. Sometimes we may ignore certain symptoms of diabetes and think it’s something else. This is usually due to the assumption that children cannot contract diabetes. So watch out for the symptoms listed below and get the child tested, even if you have the slightest doubt, especially if there is a family history of diabetes.[ref]Mathers, Colin D., and Dejan Loncar. “Projections of global mortality and burden of disease from 2002 to 2030.” PLoS medicine 3, no. 11 (2006): e442.[/ref]
1. Polyuria Or Increased Urination
When your child is urinating more often then it is probably a good idea to get a diabetic check done. The most commonly used diagnostic for diabetes is to test the urine and blood for sugar levels. If the child is indeed diagnosed with diabetes, then the doctor would be able to classify it as type I or not diabetes and treat it accordingly.[ref]American Diabetes Association. “Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus.” Diabetes care 37, no. Supplement 1 (2014): S81-S90.[/ref]
2. Polydipsia Or Abnormal Thirst
An active child or a child playing on a hot day will drink a lot of water, and that is healthy. An excessive thirst that is otherwise uncommon could also be a sign of diabetes and should not be ignored. In fact, if you find that one or more of the symptoms mentioned persist, then it is best to seek immediate medical attention and treatment.
Symptomatic polyuria or polydipsia can also result from excessive intake of water, familial or due to certain other diseases like sarcoidosis as well. So it is best to get a medical opinion.[ref]Robertson, Gary L. “Diagnosis of diabetes insipidus.” In Diabetes insipidus in man, vol. 13, pp. 176-189. Karger Publishers, 1985.[/ref]
3. Weight Loss And Polyphagia
Polyphagia is a condition where a person experiences excessive hunger. If your child has had unexplained weight loss, especially along with increased appetite and food intake, then it could be a warning sign of diabetes. It has been suggested that young patients presenting to health care providers with symptoms of marked hyperglycemia, including polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss (sometimes with excessive hunger) and blurred vision, should receive diagnostic testing for diabetes immediately.[ref]American Diabetes Association. “Screening for type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 27, no. suppl 1 (2004): s11-s14.[/ref]
4. Blurred Vision
While the above three symptoms are said to be the most prevalent in the onset of diabetes, at times a few other symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness, confusion, tiredness, difficulty in speaking, shivering, drowsiness, and inability to concentrate, have also been observed and are labeled as neuroglycopenic factors. Studies also suggest that care should be taken when assessing such symptoms and comparing them with the autonomic symptoms.
[ref]Hepburn, David A., Ian J. Deary, Brian M. Frier, Alan W. Patrick, John D. Quinn, and B. Miles Fisher. “Symptoms of acute insulin-induced hypoglycemia in humans with and without IDDM: factor-analysis approach.” Diabetes Care 14, no. 11 (1991): 949-957.[/ref]
When children vomit, the first thing that comes to mind is never diabetes. Parents will assume it’s a stomach bug or the flu or maybe even a heatstroke. Nausea is also indicative of diabetes so repeated incidents should trigger an essential blood and urine test.[ref]Silverstein, Janet, Georgeanna Klingensmith, Kenneth Copeland, Leslie Plotnick, Francine Kaufman, Lori Laffel, Larry Deeb et al. “Care of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.” Diabetes care 28, no. 1 (2005): 186-212.[/ref]
So next time your child comes running to you for extra food or if they’re thirsty often or if they are going to the loo often, pay more attention to those signs. You might be able to catch diabetes early if they have it.