With flu season under way and November marking National Diabetes Awareness Month, we would like to remind parents and doctors that the misdiagnosis of diabetes as the flu, a stomach virus or another infection can be deadly — especially in the very young. 

We at the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi are committed to raising awareness of the warning signs of diabetes, including thirst, frequent urination, bedwetting, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue. At diagnosis, over 40 percent of children with type 1 are already suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a breakdown of fat by the liver that can lead to coma and death.

Earlier diagnosis will mean fewer children will suffer from this life-threatening condition.

Even infants can get diabetes, yet it is often missed by those unaware that the disease can strike at such a young age.

When a mother in north Mississippi noticed that her 3-year-old daughter was frequently thirsty and wetting the bed, she thought the child might have a urinary tract infection. And after a relative suggested diabetes as the culprit the doctor was dismissive.

Everyone was stunned when the child, already in DKA, was airlifted to a hospital, her blood glucose approaching 800. (Normal fasting levels range from around 70 to 99 mg/dl.)

Please learn to recognize the warning signs of diabetes in your family, friends, co-workers and patients before irreversible damage has been done. 

Free posters displaying diabetes warning signs are available for daycare centers, schools, medical offices and elsewhere. Call 601-957-7878 or visit www.msdiabetes.org.

Mary Fortune

Executive vice president

Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi

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