Diabetes is a disease that causes the human body to lose its ability to control the levels of glucose in the blood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies diabetes as one of the most common chronic diseases among children, and notes that approximately 151,000 Americans under the age of 20 have the disease. In the past, most children afflicted with diabetes had type 1 diabetes, but as the rate of childhood obesity has increased, the rate of type 2 diabetes in children has risen as well.
Shared Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2
With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, many children do not experience any symptoms during the early stages of the disease. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can, however, develop rapidly, sometimes over the course of several weeks, according to MayoClinic.com, whereas the symptoms of type 2 may develop slowly over a long period. The shared symptoms of both types include frequent urination and increased thirst. A child may become extremely hungry, yet despite the fact that he eats more, he may lose weight and become lethargic. He may experience vision problems, have difficulty focusing and complain of blurred vision. Parents should seek medical attention for a child with any of those signs or symptoms.
Other Type 1 Symptoms
In some cases, an early sign of type 1 diabetes is that a child starts wetting her bed at night, note health officials at KidsHealth, a Nemours Foundation health education website. Another possible sign of diabetes is a vaginal yeast infection in a prepubertal girl. In infants and toddlers still wearing diapers, a severe diaper rash caused by a yeast infection may indicate type 1 diabetes. A parent may notice that an infant has become lethargic and seems to suffer from abdominal pain. If a parent observes any of these symptoms or signs, she should take her child to see a doctor.
Other Type 2 Symptoms
A child may develop areas of darkened velvety skin. These may appear in the folds of his body, including the armpits, elbows and knees, or between the fingers, toes or legs. Sometimes a child may appear to have a ring around his neck that cannot be washed off. A parent should seek medical attention for a child who develops these dark patches or complains of or displays other early signs or symptoms of diabetes.