Let me just say right now, there's very little chance that your child has Type 1 Diabetes. I'm not writing this post to try to cause people to worry. Unfortunately, this condition is out there and it isn't necessarily something that runs in families. There's no sign of it in either my or my husband's families. Its symptoms can go unnoticed, and many times do, until a child is in a diabetic coma. This is not something I'd wish on any parent, so I've decided to talk about some of the warning signs.
One of the first signs of Diabetes is weight loss. This can easily be overlooked because children will often have growth spurts which tend to thin them out. Weight loss caused by Diabetes occurs because the body is losing glucose (energy) through urination. The body will then use the body's fat and muscle stores to try to regain that energy. There can also be an increase in hunger as the cells become malnourished. Diabetes can also cause weakness because of the cells being robbed of their energy.
The thing that really tipped it off for me with my daughter was the increased thirst and urination. Now by this, I'm not saying that there was an extra diaper change a day. No, she was completely soaking through diapers. Repeatedly. I'd put a clean diaper on her before putting her down for a nap and she'd wake up 45 minutes later with both her and her crib soaked. When blood sugar (glucose) is high, the kidneys can't get all the glucose back into the bloodstream so the glucose is put out in the urine. Unfortunately, this makes the urine very concentrated, so water is pulled from the blood to reduce the concentration. The water and glucose fill up the bladder quickly and repeatedly causing the excessive urination.
As I said at the beginning, there's a good chance that your child does not have diabetes. But if you do notice your child experiencing the symptoms I've listed above, a simple finger poke at the pediatrician's office can tell you one way or the other. Should the doctor come back and tell you that your child does have Diabetes, please know that treatment options are so much better now than they've ever been. My daughter, who is now 8, has an insulin pump (Hooray for not having to do shots all day!) and has as much freedom to have a piece of cake at a birthday party as any other child would. While we have made changes to make sure she's as healthy as possible, it's not been anything horrible or drastic. It just becomes the new normal. And hope for a cure is alive and well.