My last blog post, telling the story of the discovery of my little one's Type 1 Diabetes, became one of my most highly viewed posts. That tells me that many of you are concerned about the health of our children - mine and yours as well.
So, I'd like to help you even more. Here, I am providing you a list of ten symptoms that could be clues that you are dealing with Type 1 Diabetes. After reading it, you might be able to get a step up on this disease, should it happen to you or your child. (Type 1 Diabetes does not ONLY affect children. For this reason, it is no longer called "juvenile diabetes.") If you see a combination of these symptoms, contact your doctor. If you suggest you suspect diabetes, a glucose test would be a very simple way to get a better idea.
Before I list the warning signs, first I want to explain how a non-diabetic (Type 1) body functions. Your body takes in sugar (mostly through carbohydrates) to get energy. In order for the sugar to get into the cells, it needs to be delivered to the cells with insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas for that purpose only. Without insulin, the sugar sits around waiting for it to be taken to the cells. The longer it sits waiting, the higher the level of sugar in your blood.
The pancreas of a Type 1 Diabetic has stopped functioning. It no longer produces insulin, so the insulin needs to be injected into the body to get the sugar into the cells. If you don't get the insulin into the body, the following could be seen:
1. Frequent Urination
This is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes - one that should not be overlooked. I should have known something was was wrong when my little one had to visit the restroom 4 times at a baseball game this summer. I thought she was just bored.
Why does this happen?
When the sugar in your body does not go into your cells as it should, it has to go somewhere else. Some of it stays in your body, seeping into your blood, rotting and turning acidic, but some of it is washed out with all the water you are drinking.
2. Unusual Thirst
It was summer. Even though it wasn't too hot, she was going through several water bottles each day. My only thought was, Water is good. I'm glad she's drinking.
If the body is dehydrated (from the frequent urination), it will do whatever it can to compensate. Unfortunately, this is a losing battle until the body gets the insulin needed to make it work.
3. Fruity Breath
I didn't specifically notice that it was fruity, but I did notice a strong smell.
When the ketones (protein in the blood) break down, one of the byproducts released creates a fruity fragrance.
4. Stomach Pain/Vomiting
One way we knew we were not dealing with a virus was that vomiting did not make my daughter feel any better, as it often does with a virus. She felt worse. If this ever happens again, I will know it is a very bad thing.
Vomiting is the body's last resort to get rid of something. In this case, sugar.
5. Shallow (or Deep) Breathing
This was the one symptom my daughter had that helped us realize something was really not right, even when she seemed to be doing okay. It sounded like she had a stuffy nose, but she didn't.
Respiration is another of the body's defenses - a way of trying to get those acidic byproducts out of its system.
For almost the whole summer, my little one seemed to be in a bad mood. Some days she stopped talking altogether, resorting to just screaming and growling. It was terribly unpleasant, and I was tired of making excuses for her. Now that we see a direct correlation between her bad moods and high blood sugar, I feel a lot better knowing the reason for her (now less frequent) grumpiness.
No clue. I actually haven't read anything about this being common. But it is a given in my daughter, maybe just from not feeling good.
I didn't believe my daughter was dehydrated. She had been drinking plenty. Looking at her, however, I could see what the medical professionals meant. Her eyes were very sunken.
It doesn't even out. As much as the body might be taking in by drinking, it gives it right back through urination. Throw in any vomiting whatsoever, and there is now an unbalance.
8. Weight Loss
My daughter was just about 60 lbs. at her well visit in June. At the ER in early September, she weighed just over 40. Through the summer, I noticed she looked thinner, but I assumed it was a growth spurt, and that she was growing taller to stretch out her baby fat.
Your body's cells still need to get energy from somewhere. Since they are not getting it from the sugar ingested, they start to eat away at fat reserves and muscles. (The consumption of the muscle leads more quickly to the drop in the pH level of the blood, because it is getting protein from the muscle and giving off an acidic byproduct.)
No wonder my child wanted to be carried so much more than before. By the time we got to the ER, she couldn't even walk anymore.
Remember- energy comes from the burning of sugar. The sugar that doesn't get into the cells cannot be burned.
We had gone out to dinner the Saturday before my daughter went to the hospital. She didn't want to tell us that her stomach hurt because she was so hungry and afraid we wouldn't let her eat.
Again, sugar is not getting to the body's cells. The cells are sending a message to the brain that they want food/energy!
It's my hope that you do not have to go through this yourself or with any of your children. But if you do, it is much less taxing on the body to catch it early. Here's hoping that a hospital visit can be avoided for any possible diabetics who see these symptoms.
Feel free to pass this information on to those you care about.
Because I love even numbers and lists!