Recognizing the early signs of type 1 diabetes is critical in getting a diagnosis and ultimately beginning treatment sooner. Because with earlier diagnosis and modification of risk factors, long-term complications can be prevented. We spoke with Sugarbreak experts Dr. Kyle Monk and Dr. Mary Kellis to learn how to identify the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
One common myth is that type 1 diabetes is only diagnosed in children. But that’s simply not true according to Dr. Kellis. “Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age,” she says. “In the past, type 1 diabetes was known as Juvenile diabetes as it was diagnosed more often in the younger age group. Most recently we now know that about 50 percent of type 1 diabetes is actually diagnosed in adulthood.”
Spotting the symptoms of type 1 diabetes is both useful and important because, once identified, you’re in a position to take action. And the earlier you get on top of it, the better your chances of reducing or delaying serious illness such as heart and kidney disease. It’s also important to note that symptoms can develop quickly and be mistaken for something else.
An additional consideration to keep in mind is that researchers are now seeing a link between people developing diabetes after contracting COVID-19. Furthermore, reports show that 40% of people in the United States who have died from COVID-19 had type 1 or type 2 diabetes, so identifying symptoms early is now more important than ever.
Here are five key symptoms to help you identify signs of type 1 diabetes.
If you’re peeing more frequently, particularly at night, this could be a symptom of diabetes. This happens because as the glucose level in the blood increases, the kidneys try to eliminate the excess sugars in urine.
When you’re urinating more to remove excess sugar, your body is losing a lot of water. In order to replace those fluids, you might find yourself feeling more thirsty than usual.
Type 1 diabetes can cause weight loss because the pancreas does not create enough insulin, which results in glucose building up in the bloodstream instead of moving it into the body’s cells. This tricks the body into thinking it’s starving. As a survival mechanism, the body makes energy by burning fat and muscle at a rapid rate, resulting in what seems like mysterious weight loss.
When insufficient amounts of sugar move from the bloodstream to the body’s cells, it can leave a person feeling fatigued. So if you’re experiencing lower energy levels than normal, it could be a symptom of type 1 diabetes.
Another common symptom of type 1 diabetes is blurred vision, which can occur frequently or rarely in one or both eyes. This loss of sharpness in vision is caused by excess sugar in the tiny blood vessels in the eyes.
The five symptoms listed above are not the only indicators you might have prediabetes or type 1 diabetes. Dr. Kellis says that other signs to look out for “include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and even a fruity odor on the breath.” There is also a threat of serious complications from other infections and illnesses, such as Covid-19 for example, which are often much more severe for people with diabetes. “Sometimes it may be more difficult to fight infection when blood glucose is uncontrolled,” adds Dr. Kellis.
How to Spot Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Type 1 diabetes can occur in children at any age, and although there’s no cure, it can be managed through a healthy lifestyle and improved diet. The signs that children present with are not dissimilar to that of adults, but they may manifest in slightly different ways. For example, “Parents will notice that children that were once continent (potty trained) are now having bedwetting and daytime accidents,” says Dr. Monk. “Children that were not previously potty trained may have heavier diapers and more frequent diaper changes.”
Dr. Monk also advises, “Children in diabetic ketoacidosis may present with fatigue and lethargy. With high ketone levels, a child may have drowsiness, lethargy and neurological changes. These children may have stomach aches and vomiting which sometimes makes them appear to suffer from a stomach bug.”
We’re Here to Help
You can use Sugarbreak products to help manage your blood sugar by curbing your cravings and controlling your levels. To support healthy blood sugar and promote healthy insulin production, try using Sugarbreak Reduce, which can be taken daily as part of a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re worried that you or a family member may have prediabetes or type 1 diabetes, you should talk to a healthcare provider.