“NHS Wales is open” – Diabetes UK Cymru urges parents to be aware of symptoms during lockdown


  • A quarter of children and young people with type 1 diabetes develop serious DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) before they’re diagnosed
  • Charity reminds parents to be vigilant, and act if they’re worried
  • Remember these symptoms, the 4Ts: Toilet, Thirsty, Tired, Thinner


Diabetes UK Cymru is today 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.


Dai Williams, National Director at Diabetes UK Cymru said: “We are hearing anecdotally from clinicians that fewer young people are being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes compared to previous years or that a disproportionate number are arriving for urgent care, further highlighting the need for people to act, and fast, if they suspect type 1 diabetes. As a charity, we are here to help people with diabetes and their families get the support they need during this difficult time”.


Professor Justin Warner, a Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes working at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff explained: “ I am concerned that parents are reluctant to see their GP or present at A&E because of fears around Covid-19 and to help protect the NHS. But I want to reiterate that DKA can be life-threatening. If a child or young person does not receive immediate treatment for DKA, it can lead to coma, or even death. Although it feels like everything is suspended due to this pandemic and the focus is only on Covid-19, it’s crucial that children and young people get seen, treated and that their condition is managed.”


Type 1 diabetes is the most common form in children and young people. But new research from Diabetes UK has found that almost a quarter (23%) of all newly diagnosed children and young people with type 1 diabetes in England and Wales were not formally diagnosed until they had become seriously ill with diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.


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.


What are the 4Ts?


  • 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.


Diabetes UK’s analysis is based on the National Paediatric Diabetes Audit Hospital admissions and complications reports 2012-2015 (2017). These reports show that each year around 600 children and young people received a type 1 diabetes diagnosis only after they developed DKA.

Information about the signs and symptoms of all types of diabetes can be found here:  https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/diabetes-symptoms

Find out more about DKA and what you can do to avoid it here: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/complications/diabetic_ketoacidosis

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: www.diabetes.org.uk/coronavirus