The first signs of diabetes in a child

The first signs of diabetes in a child

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Diabetes is a metabolic disease whose dominant symptom is permanent hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) caused by deficiency or malfunctioning of insulin (the hormone responsible for lowering blood glucose). Basically it is divided into two types - type I (insulin-dependent) and type II (non-insulin-dependent). In children and adolescents, the dominant character is type I diabetes and we will devote our today's article to it. What are the first signs of diabetes in a child?

Is diabetes common?

Type I diabetes predominates in children and adolescents (90 percent of all get diabetes in this age group). According to data presented by the International Diabetes Federation from 2009, she is suffering from it all over the world, as much as 0.02 percent of people between 0 and 14 years old. However, it should be remembered that this ratio may vary slightly depending on the country or even region in a given country.

However, focusing on our country, data from 1989-2004 show that each year about 18 out of 100,000 children aged 0-14 years get type I diabetes. Which, however, is very disturbing these numbers are increasing every year. Therefore, it is currently expected that this incidence is even higher.

What is type I diabetes?

Underlying type I diabetes is autoimmune process (the body creates antibodies directed against its own tissues) directed against beta cells of the pancreas (these cells are responsible for the production of insulin), resulting in irreversible insulin deficiency.

Scientists have been arguing for many years about the primary cause of this autoimmune process, but it is certain that it is affected by some genetic component (siblings with diabetes have a greater chance of getting sick) and environmental trigger (this factor is unknown but it is thought that it may be due to various infections that the child has undergone).

What are the symptoms of type I diabetes in a child?

Typically, symptoms of type I diabetes in a child develop within one to a few weeks. Among them you can distinguish:

  • Thirst a child may drink up to a few (3.4 or more) liters of fluid during the day.
  • polyuria - the child gives off very large amounts of urine, proportional to the amount of fluid consumed.
  • Weight loss or no weight gain - a characteristic symptom is the rapid weight loss of several kilograms over a period of one to two weeks.
  • Increasing weakness - the child reports that he is feeling worse. There is noticeable worsening of school results, unwillingness to play sports, apathy.
  • In extreme cases, when ketoacidosis develops (in some situations this may be the first manifestation of the disease) - nausea, vomiting, fast breathing, acetone smell (nail polish remover) from the child's mouth and even a coma.

To sum up, the most characteristic picture of a child suffering from unrecognized type I diabetes is the picture a child who drinks a lot, peeing a lot, lost a few kilos in a short time and is weak or apathetic. These symptoms in every parent should cause anxiety and be a signal to see a pediatrician as soon as possible. It is worth emphasizing that when symptoms of ketoacidosis appear, you should immediately go with your child to the emergency department or call an ambulance, because it is a life threatening condition!

How does the doctor make a diagnosis?

Doctors have at their disposal for diabetes diagnosis a large range of laboratory tests. Of these, the most important seems determination of serum glucose and OGTT (glucose tolerance test). However, it should be remembered that a child who has symptoms is sufficient to be diagnosed single blood glucose results above 200 mg / dL.

Of course, numerous additional tests are performed subsequently. They are designed to determine the type, severity or complications of the disease, but remember that they are superfluous at the very beginning. The most important is quick glucose leveling in hospital conditions.

How is type I diabetes treated?

The essence of type I diabetes treatment is continuous lifetime supplementation of missing insulin in the form of injections or so-called insulin pumps. Unfortunately, there are currently no other treatments for this serious disease.

In summary, type I diabetes is a disease severe, insidious and very dangerous. Hence, vigilant observation of the child and a quick visit to a specialist in case of any disturbing symptoms are extremely important.

Book sources:Pediatrics edited by Wanda Kawalec,Internet Szczeklik - internal medicine handbook.


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