Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Many of the same symptoms of diabetes in children occur in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue (glucose is unable to enter cells, causing energy levels to decrease)
  • Frequent urination (extra glucose in the bloodstream cannot enter the cells that need it and must be removed by the kidneys in the urine, causing the child to urinate more frequently and in greater amounts)
  • Irritability
  • Thirst (children often feel more thirsty because they are urinating more)
  • Weight loss, or difficulty gaining weight (although the child may eat well or even eat more than usual, the body starts breaking down muscle and stored fat to use as fuel because the cells cannot get the glucose they need for energy)

Type 2 diabetes can cause additional symptoms, some of which are related to insulin resistance. In some cases, children with this type show no signs or symptoms at all (i.e., are asymptomatic). Wounds may take longer to heal in children who have type 2 diabetes.

Additional signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes include the following:

  • Acanthosis nigricans (condition in which excess insulin builds up in the body, forming dark, thick, soft patches of skin around the neck, between fingers and toes, in the armpits, on elbows and knees, and in the groin area)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High levels of blood fats (lipids)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS; condition in girls that develops as a result of hormone changes triggered by insulin resistance) PCOS causes fluid-filled sacs (cysts) to develop on the ovaries, resulting in irregular or absent menstrual periods and abnormal amounts of facial and body hair.
  • Yeast infections and other types of infection

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 23 Jul 2015