Health | Living with Chronic Illness

What Parents Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms from The Hallway Initiative

What Parents Need to Know about Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms by Guest Blogger The Hallway Initiative. Learning the less common symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes can make a difference in a patient's life.

One of my dearest friends has Type 1 Diabetes and truth be told, it scares me. Lori-Anne,  an IRL friend and blogger behind Typecasted Diabetes, taught me that Type 1 Diabetes is the lesser known autoimmune version of diabetes, much like the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) I have is the lesser known autoimmune version of arthritis. She’s taught me about Type 1 Diabetes symptoms but still it scares me. It scares me how quickly her blood sugar can spike or go low, it scares me how something as seemingly innocent as shivers or tingling sensations can indicate something more, it scares me hearing what scares her.

 

Lori-Anne and I have come to understand each other on a deeper level because of the similarities between our diseases though our immune systems attack different areas of our bodies. We both were diagnosed with autoimmune diseases out of the blue, due to “stressful” health events but no prior family history. We both fear especially for the kids who endure our diseases and their parents who have to bear witness to it.

 

It is one of my greatest fears that my kids will inherit my RA. Of course, I know what symptoms to look for in my kids. But what about parents who do not already know the symptoms? Or parents that don’t know how a seemingly innocent sickness can act as a trigger that starts the immune system to attack it’s own body?

 

Because of my love and respect for Lori-Anne and my desire to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases, I was thrilled when Julie from The Hallway Initiative agreed to guest post for me to educate us on what parents need to know about Type 1 Diabetes symptoms. The symptoms will surprise you, I know they did me, separately the symptoms seem like no big deal but together they can indicate trouble. Recognizing Type 1 Diabetes symptoms makes all the difference in getting prompt and effective treatment. Please welcome Julie to Mom’s Small Victories!

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you. Please also note that we are not medical professionals but sharing our experiences with these diseases to simply raise awareness. Please seek a professional medical opinion.

 

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What Parents Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

By Julie Moore, The Hallway Initiative

 

 

“Okay, Mom, we need to talk,” the Urgent Care doctor said as he came back into the exam room where I was sitting with my oldest spark plug.  “We got Turbo’s bloodwork back.  He has Type 1 Diabetes, and because he’s so sick, we’re going to take him by ambulance to an intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital.”

 

The doctor went on quickly to explain that Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in dangerously-high blood sugar.  Although there is no known cure, the condition can be managed through daily injections of insulin.  Without insulin, blood sugar cannot get into the body’s cells, and the body begins to starve.     

 

I don’t know what I’d expected the doctor to say that day, but the diabetes diagnosis came as a complete shock.  Before that terrible June afternoon in 2013, I didn’t know what diabetes really was.  I honestly felt like the worst mother in the world for not having realized sooner just how sick my little guy was.  Weren’t there signs I should have recognized?  

 

Although Turbo had been experiencing extreme thirst and frequent urination, the two most common symptoms of diabetes, at eight years old, he was old enough to take care of them without my knowledge and yet too young to notice that something was wrong and to tell me what was happening.  However, there were other less common symptoms that I had noticed, though I didn’t realize at the time that everything was connected and that they all indicated Type 1 Diabetes.

 

The sad truth is that Type 1 Diabetes is much more prevalent today than it has ever been before.  But despite its somewhat-frequent occurrence now, it still often goes unnoticed by parents and medical personnel alike until the situation becomes dire, as in Turbo’s case.  While it would be wonderful if pediatricians and family doctors began routinely testing for it, the reality is that doctors simply cannot test every patient for every possible illness at every visit.  The best thing we can do right now as parents is to acquaint ourselves with the symptoms so that we can better detect when things go awry.

 

As I mentioned earlier, extreme thirst and frequent urination are the two most common symptoms of diabetes.  Since it’s not always easy to recognize those signs in elementary and pre-teen children, here is a list of less-common symptoms that, when combined, could indicate diabetes.  The more severe the blood-sugar buildup and the longer that diabetes goes undetected, the more severe the symptoms will become.  Note that the last two symptoms are indications of Diabetic Keto-Acidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication of diabetes that requires immediate medical intervention.  This was the stage that Turbo had reached when we took him to Urgent Care.

 

  • Shaky hands

  • Numb/tingly extremities

  • Increased hunger

  • Exhaustion

  • Muscle pain

  • Changes in vision

  • Rapid weight loss

  • Tooth decalcification

  • Vomiting without fever (symptom of DKA)

  • Panting/gasping for breath (symptom of DKA)

 

Although a diabetes diagnosis can be very scary, and as sad as it is that it is becoming much more common, the good news is that most doctors are now aware of it and know what to do for diabetic patients.  If you suspect that either you, your child, or your loved one is suffering from diabetes, the best thing you can do is to take action.  Delaying medical treatment won’t make it go away, but seeking help as soon as you suspect something’s wrong can help prevent serious complications.  

 

If you or someone in your family is diagnosed with diabetes (or any other devastating disease), there is hope!  I have met some amazing people as a result of my son’s diagnosis.  From doctors to medical equipment specialists to other Type 1 parents, my life is definitely enriched by having experienced the life-changing diagnosis of diabetes.  Living with an autoimmune disorder is never easy, but it is very possible to live a full and vibrant existence!


What Parents MUST Know about Type 1 Diabetes symptoms can save a life #T1D @hallwaypraise Click To Tweet

 

About Julie

Julie from The Hallway Initiative

 

Julie Moore is a wife and stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four amazing spark plugs, the oldest of whom has Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.  When not busy helping her husband on his startup or teaching the kids, she enjoys writing about autoimmune issues and encouraging others during times of hardship on her new blog, The Hallway Initiative.  You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

 

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As a parent, how many times have your kids said they’re excessively thirsty (in my house, always right before bed) or they’re hungry (in my house, 15 minutes after I cleaned up the kitchen from dinner) or that their legs hurt (in my house, we often say they’re “growing pains”)? Did you ever imagine they could be Type 1 Diabetes symptoms? In most cases, they are simply kids being kids but it’s imperative that parents know all the Type 1 Diabetes symptoms so that you can seek medical attention if your child exhibits several of these symptoms.

 

Autoimmune disorders like Type 1 Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis are not diseases to take lightly. Learning to identify Type 1 Diabetes symptoms is vital. Autoimmune disorders can progress quickly and prompt medical treatment can make all the difference in the patient’s outcome. Though they are chronic and incurable, effective treatments, understanding how the illness impacts your body and a supportive community provide a better life and hope for thriving with autoimmune disorders and chronic illness. Be informed and stay well!

 

 

Did you know that Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder? Did you know these symptoms could indicate diabetes? Do you know someone with Type 1 Diabetes? Here’s wishing 

 

 

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What Parents Need to Know about Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms by Guest Blogger The Hallway Initiative. Learning the less common symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes can make a difference in a patient's life.

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28 Comments

  1. Great post! As a school nurse (RN) that works with children who are newly diagnosed, all parents should know theses symptoms! Thanks for educating in an area that really needs it

  2. What an informative post!!! I honestly didn’t know much at all about diabetes until reading this!

  3. Oh no poor Turbo, I had no idea that children could suffer from Diabetes or at least thought it must be very rare. I hope that things will get more stable in time poor guy and thank you for raising awareness!

  4. I do not have this but I know several friends who are starting to be diagnosed. it is so scary and requires a lot of research to help really live a healthy lifestyle. Who am I kidding we require a lot of research with out having T1D. Thank you for this post because it is not something everyone talks about but getting to be more common!

  5. This is a great article. I honestly wouldn’t have known what to look for when it comes to type 1 diabetes. I feel better knowing now!

  6. Wow, I’m not a parent yet but I will definitely need to share this information with my family members and friends. Definitely something all parents should be aware of. I’m glad that I’m more aware now because of this post.

  7. My grandfather had Type 1 Diabetes and my father has Type 2 Diabetes. I have thyroid issues so I’ve been told by my endocrinologist that diabetes is something I need to be mindful of.

  8. Thank you for sharing the signs. My friends daughter was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and I was wondering how she figured it out. I will keep these in mind with my own kids.

  9. This scares me so much too. I have a couple of friends with little ones with Type 1 and it a constant struggle to stay on top of it!

  10. A childhood friend of mine was just diagnosed last month with Type 1 Diabetes and has a 2 year old daughter and she worries about her daughter inheriting it too. I could never imagine having to worry about that, as being a parent is already worry enough.

  11. This is SUCH a great post and this is so important to know. I would never have known what signs to look for in children since no one in my family or my husbands has type 1 (there are a few with type 2) so I really appreciate this detailed list.

  12. what a fantastic article… we have many family members with diabetes and are continually look ing for symptoms in those around us… thanks for sharing!

  13. Fantastic article. If I was still a principal, I would be sharing this with my school nurse so she could share it with parents. I have had a student with Type 1 diabetes every year I taught (25).

  14. One of my best friends growing up had type 1 – it was pretty routine for us to be out and have her test her blood, need to get a juice, or give herself a shot (4 a day!) This is wonderful information.

  15. Wow, this is such great information. I’ve never known a child with diabetes, but it must be terribly frightening for the parents. Thanks for helping make me more aware about this important issue.

  16. I know of a few children who have this and it is scary to me. Thank you for the this really important info!

  17. I had gestational diabetes for both my pregnancies, type 2 for the first one and type 1 for the second. My father is a diabetic, my grandfather and many more in my family. It’s inevitable really. Must look out for these symptoms.

    1. This statement is a bit misleading, and I understand why you feel compelled to classify the gestational diabetes as a different type of diabetes, but gestational diabetes is just that, gestational. For most women, it is temporary. Type One and Type Two Diabetes are permanent and have no cure. Type Two can often reverse some of the symptoms with healthy lifestyle changes, but the symptoms will return and worsen if they relax their efforts even slightly. Type One symptoms do not lessen at all. One may have tighter control than another, but all Type One Diabetics will die without insulin within a short period of time. If you have gestational diabetes, do take utmost care, as neglecting it is dangerous for the fetus, but can and often does become a permanent type of diabetes if left untreated. In your case, the treatment for the two pregnancies had different treatments. Likely, the second pregnancy required you to be on insulin? Taking insulin doesn’t make a patient Type One. Anyone with any type of diabetes can wind up on insulin. Type One diabetes has no cure and, once diagnosed, requires insulin therapy for the rest of their lives. This is a common misconception, but a vital one to understand. I hope this helps to clear up any confusion.

  18. My mom is a diabetic and I think it’s so important for people, especially parents, to be aware of what the symptoms of this disease are.

  19. Tanya, it is a true blessing to have your friendship and for our families to be so close as we go through the ups and downs of auto immunity. For those that do not know us, we both have the same sized family and are both outnumbered by boys! ha ha So, we feel less guilty going to each other’s houses because our families are equally the same sized invasion. What has really been the blessing is how open Tanya is to understanding others and always having a warm smile, big heart, and great hugs. Having T1D is scary. She nailed that. I have often stated that I am relieved, however, that this disease fell upon me and not my children. What Julie experienced with her son is similar to my own diagnosis, not finding it until DKA. I had every last one of those symptoms. I was old enough that my mother did not see the symptoms until we were on Spring Break and she was around me 24/7 that week, including a road trip that exposed just how bad the excessive thirst and frequent urination issues really were. It’s not like you have to go or like you are thirsty. It feels like you cannot drink enough water to quench your thirst and like you will have an accident the instant the sensation to urinate comes. There is no warning. You don’t need to go and suddenly you just can’t hold it in. I struggled to see the black board, or the words I just wrote on my paper, while other times I saw them just fine. I went from sitting anywhere in the classroom to asking to change seats so I could see what the teacher was writing better by sitting up front. These symptoms are not subtle to the diabetic, but they don’t jump out at an outsider. The good news is that finding diabetes is as simple as pricking your finger with a tiny needle and squeezing one drop of blood onto a test strip. If the number is high, and a diabetic’s will be HIGH…a couple of hundred high or too high for the glucometer to read at the nurses station (the reading will literally say “HIGH” or “HI.” That means blood sugar levels have climbed to over 600 mg/dL) that means your child will be sent to the ER or you will be told to drive there right away. A non-diabetic’s tends to stay between 90-100 mg/dL. At this point, getting medical treatment is the difference between diagnosis and living a fairly normal life, with lots of extra things to do to be healthy, and some scary moments OR seizures causing brain damage and nerve damage, coma, and/ or death. If you are worried your child has any of these symptoms, ask your child’s pediatrician to “Test One Drop of Blood” to see what his/her blood sugar levels are. Here in North Carolina, a law was passed called Reagan’s Rule after a toddler was not tested at the pediatrician’s and within hours/days went into DKA, and passed away. Now, due to her parents’ dedicated efforts, education of pediatricians has been mandated and it is advised for all pediatricians to provide literature to inform parents of the symptoms of T1D up to the age of 5 years old. It is not enough, but it is a huge step forward. Thank you Tanya and Julie for helping to raise awareness!

    1. Thank you so much for this great follow-up, Lori-Anne! As much as I understand about diabetes from a parent’s perspective, it is truly nothing like experiencing diabetes first-hand. So glad to hear about the strides your state is taking to make parents more aware of the symptoms! Diabetes can be life-threatening, but I’m beyond grateful for the improvements that are happening all around us to make diabetes easier, more manageable, and less scary.

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