What Are Common Signs of Childhood Diabetes

There are several classic or textbook type signs of diabetes in children to look for.  If you’re not familiar with the classifications of diabetes, then visit diabetes.org or jdrf.org to learn more.  For the purposes of this article, we’ll be guiding the discussion more towards type I or ‘insulin-dependent’ diabetes.  Much like asthma and autism, childhood diabetes is on the rise as well.  These epidemics in childhood diseases is creating all sorts of speculation within the health care community.  Some blame vaccines, others look to environmental or genetic factors.  I tend to believe that it is a combination of these factors working together that create the auto-immune response that leaves your child with an ‘attacked’ pancreas.

common signs of childhood diabetes

Do you fear a lifetime of THIS for your child?

Depending on the age of your child, it may be more difficult to spot some of these signs.  Typically, signs like extreme tiredness or fatigue and excessive hunger can be easily missed.  These things can look like other normal aspects of growing.  Another big sign is frequent urination.  This is due to the level of glucose in the blood that causes more fluid to move into the blood vessels that must be filtered by the kidneys and urinated out.


Many parents tell stories of how their kids had to go to the bathroom ‘so bad’ and quite often.  Frequency without volume could be some other issue.  Often, this frequent urination is accompanied by a fair amount of urine.  This goes against reason in that you’d think, if your child just went that they’d have very little urine.  Also, you might have a child that has to get up frequently in the night to pee or has accidents past the time of when they normally should or did with your own child.  Now, they’re reappearing again.

Please note that none of these signs are necessarily diagnostic of diabetes in your child, they’re just some things that you’ll notice that may be going on with your child.  In our case, it was first brought to our attention from our son’s pre-school teacher.  She mentioned to us that he was needing to go to the bathroom quite a bit.  We didn’t really observe this at home, so it was curious.  We thought maybe he was just taking breaks to break up the time in class. He’s 5, so we thought he might just be bored or something in class.  We just didn’t think much of that by itself.

But, other things started to come together for us, too.  Our son has always had a great appetite.  He is often grazing or ‘hungry’ for something to snack on.  Luckily, we have healthy food around the house.  He likes fresh and dried fruit.  He also likes nuts and a variety of other snacks that are not loaded with carbohydrates.  However, we are Italian and do like our pasta – but now quinoa pasta is available!  We’re so excited to have that option.  In any case, we were concerned, so we had him checked by his pediatrician who is more holistic in scope.  She is an M.D., but practices in a more Eastern or holistic way.  She shared some interesting facts with us, we’ll get to that in a bit. First, here are some other common signs you’ll read about.


Children with higher levels of glucose in their body will feel thirsty.  Their bodies are really getting dehydrated from within.  This, combined with the frequent urination, will leave them feeling very thirsty.  You might observe them chugging large glasses of water and often.  You’ll think, “wow, they’re really thirsty”.

Mood Swings

Irritability is another sign to look out for. This one is really hard because all kids can be irritable at times.  We’re not just talking about temper tantrums, but real irritability and agitation.  This is especially true if your child has a lower blood sugar level because it has been some time since they’ve eaten anything.  If they are really active, then they may need fuel in the form of food to get their blood sugar back up.  Many of the diets that kids eat can leave them with extreme swings in blood sugar levels that are bad, even if they don’t have diabetes.  The truth is, with poor dietary habits, they are more likely to be at risk for diabetes later in life (Type II).

Symptoms of Childhood Diabetes

Symptoms are different from signs as the former is diagnosed from your health care professional. Symptoms are things like fasting blood glucose tests, ketone body tests, urinalysis tests and the like.  These are more diagnostic and can set the stage for any treatment that may be necessary.

There are a variety of other health conditions that can mimic childhood diabetes; including, cold or flu, infection and urinary tract infection, just to name a few.  Because diabetes can come on so suddenly, it can mimic the flu.

Other signs include: heavy, labored breathing, fruity or wine-like smelling breath, stupor or unconsciousness, sudden weight loss, sudden vision changes, abdominal pain and vomiting.

While more recent developments in pumps and insulin control and delivery, there are more flexible options available for your child to live a ‘normal’ life.  The real key is to be involved. Studies have shown that parents who are more active an involved have children and teenagers with much better management of their condition.  The potential to live a long and fruitful life is available to your child with diabetes.

Now, back to our story with our son.  As it turns out, our fears were unfounded.  We learned that the most common presentation of diabetes in children is actually the abdominal pain and vomiting. Our doctor mentioned informed us that the children often look in poor health.  Our urinalysis tests came back negative that were correlated with her other exam findings.  She said that keeping the body alkaline is important and suggested drinking more fluids to help maintain a healthy flow through the bladder and kidneys.

We were so grateful that this is how it all turned out.  It is also why you should see your pediatrician or other health care provider if your child is suffering from any of the signs or symptoms above.  All children present differently from one another and from adults.  We see this in our own practice regarding the care of the spine and nervous system that we do.  Children and chiropractic is a very rewarding avenue for our office.  It’s amazing working with the child’s developing nervous system and observing how quickly it can help heal the body.

At Infinite Healing Arts Center we have a soft spot for working with children.  We offer a very gentle and effective style of care called Network Spinal Analysis that helps people of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of health condition, to live with greater wellness and a sense of ease in your body. For more information, contact us today.

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