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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.”

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