The signs of diabetes

Dr David Segal, a paediatric endocrinologist and South Africa’s foremost authority on childhood diabetes, says that reacting quickly to the warning signs for type 1 diabetes could save your child’s life.

‘Children and adolescents with diabetes represent society’s most vulnerable population – and it is indeed a tragedy that young lives continue to be lost to a disease for which adequate management tools and knowledge exist,’ he says.

In most cases, these lives are lost purely through a failure to notice the warning signs. Dr Segal explains that the chief symptoms of type 1 diabetes are:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite (often right after eating)
  • Despite this eating, there may be a sudden weight loss
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Sudden changes in vision

‘These symptoms can sometimes present rapidly, with the child becoming suddenly sick,’ says Dr Segal. On top of seeking speedy medical advice should they notice any of the above symptoms, he says parents to consult a doctor immediately if their child suddenly gets a flushed face, rapid breathing, a sweet, fruity smell on the breath, with stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.

‘Diabetes needs to be diagnosed swiftly, so that good blood glucose control can be introduced early,” he says. “This can delay the development and slow the progression of diabetes complications. Clearly, prevention of complications is preferable to treatment of them.’

If their condition is well-managed, children with diabetes can grow up to lead full, happy, healthy lives.

Information supplied by Accu-check

Read more about how a mother deals with her child being diagnosed with diabetes.
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