This site is intended for healthcare professionals only
Share this article

Diabetes UK launches “4 Ts” campaign on World Diabetes Day

Nine out of 10 parents do not know the four main symptoms of type 1 diabetes, according to Diabetes UK. To address this lack of awareness, the charity has launched a campaign to highlight the “4 Ts” of type 1 diabetes symptoms: Toilet, Thirsty, Tired and Thinner.

A survey of 1170 parents found that just 9% were able to correctly identify that all symptoms of type 1 diabetes:

  • Excessive thirst: (Thirsty)
  • Tiredness/lack of energy: (Tired)
  • Frequently passing urine: (Toilet)
  • Weight loss: (Thinner)

According to Diabetes UK, this lack of understanding is one of the reasons that a quarter of children with type 1 diabetes are only diagnosed once they are already seriously ill with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life threatening condition which needs immediate specialist treatment in hospital. About 500 of the 2000 children who develop type 1 diabetes in the UK every year have DKA by the time they are diagnosed.

The “4 Ts” campaign posters use children‘s fridge magnets to spell out the 4 Ts, with the aim being to help ensure parents, carers and anyone who works with children knows the symptoms and understands that a child who has any of the symptoms needs to visit a doctor immediately and be tested. The campaign will also raise awareness among healthcare professionals that they need to test for type 1 diabetes as soon as a child presents with any symptoms. This is because onset can be extremely quick.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive for Diabetes UK, said: “We need to get the message across that if you have a child or if you work with children, you need to make it your business to know the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. We hope the 4 Ts will make them easier to remember and so help ensure children with the condition get diagnosed at the right time.

“This is why we will also be targeting our 4 Ts campaign at generalist staff such as GPs, practice nurses and those working in accident and emergency. While many of these healthcare professionals already do excellent work in correctly identifying the 4 Ts and ensuring children are tested quickly, we hear about some awful cases where parents are told their child has a virus or a urine infection and are told to come back for a test if the symptoms persist. We need to stop this kind of thing happening and the only way to do this is to make sure every healthcare professional understands that a child with any of the 4 Ts needs to be tested for type 1 diabetes immediately.”

Related content
Free for all UK & Ireland healthcare professionals

Sign up to all DiabetesontheNet journals


By clicking ‘Subscribe’, you are agreeing that are able to email you periodic newsletters. You may unsubscribe from these at any time. Your info is safe with us and we will never sell or trade your details. For information please review our Privacy Policy.

Are you a healthcare professional? This website is for healthcare professionals only. To continue, please confirm that you are a healthcare professional below.

We use cookies responsibly to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your browser settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website. Read about how we use cookies.