The NHS is open – Diabetes UK urges parents to be ‘4Ts aware’ during lockdown

Diabetes UK is today (14 April 2020) urging parents not to let coronavirus fears stop them from seeking medical help if they’re worried their child is showing the signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. Echoing comments made on 8th April by Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England that the public should – as they always have done – seek emergency care if they need it, the charity is reminding parents of the 4Ts of Type 1 diabetes, and reassuring them that if they need urgent help – the NHS is open.

DKA is life threatening but, in most cases, preventable. Acting quickly can save lives, so Diabetes UK wants to raise awareness of the common early symptoms of type 1 diabetes, so that children are diagnosed sooner and more safely. The early signs and symptoms are easy to mistake for a viral infection or other illness, which is why it’s so important to be 4T aware.

The 4Ts are:

  • Toilet – Going to the toilet a lot, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier nappies in babies
  • Thirsty – Being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst
  • Tired – Feeling more tired than usual
  • Thinner – Losing weight or looking thinner than usual

These symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are also the most common symptoms in adults, who should equally be Type 1 aware, and other symptoms can include infections such as thrush, or blurred vision.

The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes come on very quickly – over a few days or weeks – and need urgent treatment. Without treatment, consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to DKA. DKA can often be treated with insulin and fluids if it is picked up quickly. But the life-threatening complication could be prevented entirely if the signs of Type 1 diabetes are spotted early.

National Paediatric Diabetes Audit Hospital admissions and complications reports 2012-2015 (2017) show that each year around 600 children and young people received a type 1 diabetes diagnosis only after they developed DKA – a medical emergency which must be treated in hospital quickly.

While the UK is under lockdown, Diabetes UK has also been hearing anecdotally from clinicians that disproportionate numbers of young people are arriving for urgent care already in DKA, further highlighting the need for people to act, and fast, if they suspect Type 1 diabetes.

Find out more about DKA and what you can do to avoid it CLICK HERE.

Diabetes UK has also prepared up-to-date guidance to support anyone living with or affected by diabetes during the coronavirus epidemic, which can be found at:

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