Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Does My Child Have Diabetes?

Does my child have Diabetes? This is the question I started asking myself a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2013, if you're asking yourself this very question read on to discover our story and the facts about Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms.

 As a family we have always been Diabetes aware to some degree as my Grandmother developed Type 1 Diabetes in later years, and my Dad has Type 2. Though not all children diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes have a relative with the condition.

Some time between September and December my 10 year old son started to lose weight. By mid December he had lost at least a stone, whilst he was probably on the heavier side he could never be described as fat but suddenly he became very slim. To be fair he looked great, I put the weight loss down to him being more active now the football season had started.

Around November he seemed to have days where he was very thirsty. Not every day though, I put this down to the fact that he wasn't drinking enough on some days so was really thirsty on others. I then started to notice that if we stopped at the shop on the way home from school he became more concerned with buying a drink than an after school snack. The thirst at times though was insatiable, he'd down a couple of large glasses in a row. Both Grandmothers even commented on it andit was ath that point that i really thought I should get him checked out.

Though as most modern day Mums do I first turned to Dr Google!  I had googled "Does My Child Have Diabetes" and whilst most articles online described the thirst and weight loss as a symptom, many articles led me to believe that if he did have Type 1 Diabetes he would be feeling very poorly indeed and this just wasn't the case with my son.

I phoned the Doctors surgery and explained I wanted my child to be tested for Diabetes. They suggested I see the Diabetic Nurse but explained she was very busy and the next appointment was on Christmas Eve at 8.45. A time and date I will never forget. I didn't push for an earlier appointment as he seemed fine and I really thought he was probably fine, because these things just don't happen to us, I was just being cautious. Nor was I aware of the urgency in the situation.

On Christmas Eve we arrive at the Doctors Surgery, Jack asks how they will test him for Diabetes, will they just test his urine or will they prick his finger like he had seen his Grandad do? This is a boy that is terrified of pain or needles (oh the irony). I say hopefully just a urine test, I didn't fancy the nurses chances of getting blood from him.

We enter the Nurses Office and I explain why we have come and the fact he has lost lots of weight and is incredibly thirsty. She measures him, weighs him and tells me she really doesn't think he has Diabetes because he would be really sick by now. Though she said to put my mind at ease she would do a finger prick test, thankfully Jack didn't cause a fuss. When the Nurse looked at the reading she actually gasped, she said "oh my god, it's actually very high. Well that is a shock isn't it". It might have been a shock to her but it wasn't to me. I was aware of the symptoms and knew there was a chance that Diabetes could be the diagnosis though at this stage there was no talk about the different types 1 & 2, and I really didn't have  a clue what the difference was, I just thought that one type you had injections and with the other type you didn't.

She then took a urine sample and found there to be large ketones. She said we needed to head to hospital as quickly as possible, she phoned ahead and told us to report to the Childrens Ward.

The journey to the Hospital was a real blur. I thought we would be there for an hour tops and reassured my son that they would give us some medication and send us on our way. I was wrong.

Before I go any further I will point out the typical symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Children.


Look out for the 4 T's.

Thirst - Is your Child drinking far more than usual?

Thinner - Has your Child recently lost any weight?

Tired - Does your Child seem more tired than usual?

Toilet - Is your Child going to the toilet more often to urinate?

Your child might not show all of these symptoms, like my son, your child might only display a couple of these symptoms. It might be that your child does not have Type 1 Diabetes but the only way you will find out is by taking them to the Doctor's to be tested. My advice when you visit your Doctor is to specify that you are concerned about Type 1 Diabetes. Whilst at the hospital I found out that whilst more and more Children are being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, it is still pretty rare. Just 17 children were diagnosed in 2013 at our local hospital. Though the 98% of children diagnosed with Diabetes have Type 1, an auto-immune condition that is not caused by lifestyle, or eating to many sweets or even anything that a parent did during pregnancy. In fact nobody really knows what the cause is but it can effect anyone. As it's not a common condition many Doctors and Nurses will rarely ever have to diagnose a child with the condition and they may not be quick enough to pick up on the symptoms.

If your child is not diagnosed quickly they run the risk of developing DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) which is a life threatening condition. This occurs when the blood becomes too acidic due to ketones. Symptoms include those described above but can also include vomiting, nausea, tummy pain, changes in breathing, an unusual smell to their breath (similar to pear drops) and in severe cases your child may become unconscious. I was told once my son was admitted to hospital that if we had been a day later he could have been in a coma. For this reason I plan on writing to my Doctor's surgery to raise awareness of Type 1 Diabetes, my son should never have been made to wait for 1 week before seeing the Diabetic Nurse.

So if you are still wondering "Does My Child Have Diabetes?" don't waste another minute. Phone your Doctor's Surgery now. I hope you have found our story both interesting and helpful. Our story is not unique, there are many Children in the UK that are living with Type 1 Diabetes. If your child also has this condition please share your diagnosis story in our comments section below, especially share the symptoms that your child developed. Hopefully these experiences will help other parents who are concerned about their children and encourage them to get the help they need.

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