What are the presenting symptoms and signs of diabetes?

  • Passing frequent, large amounts of urine (polyuria). The child may start to bed-wet again after being dry for months or years.
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Weight loss and tiredness
  • Collapse (shock), dehydration, loss of consciousness (diabetic coma) and fast breathing (due to metabolic acidosis). This is a life-threatening emergency.

The diagnosis of diabetes must be suspected if a very high blood glucose concentration is found, using reagent strips. All children with suspected diabetes must be referred urgently to hospital. An intravenous infusion with normal saline must be started before transferring a child with diabetic coma. Later the clinical diagnosis of diabetes must be confirmed with a glucose tolerance test. Children with diabetes usually need daily injections of insulin for life to control their diabetes.

Diabetes usually presents with tiredness, weight loss and polyuria.

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