Late August means school-time for parents, children and teachers alike. The task of preparing for Back-to-School is busy and sometimes stressful for all, but it also provides unique excitement of reuniting with old friends and teachers or beginning a new adventure in a new school.
As September is approaching soon, it is a perfect time to acknowledge that school staff provide an extremely important set of eyes for pupils. Some teachers spend so much time with them – they see pupils throughout the day and can notice when things are different, off, or just not quite right. They can often uncover important insights or issues. Knowing that children are well-cared for is very comforting to all the families.
Think TEST Know what it stands for
One of the conditions that teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) can often see signs of in the classroom is TYPE 1 DIABETES – one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in children and adolescents. The sooner the symptoms of diabetes are recognised, the lower risk of complications – therefore it is extremely important to know what to look for and TEST.
The TEST campaign was recently launched to raise the awareness of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. We believe that this simple acronym will help school staff, parents, grandparents and all other members of the public to more easily remember and recognise them and take action.
Recognise the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
TEST represents the following: Thirst (increased), Energy (reduced), Sudden (weight change) and Toilet (trips increased). These symptoms are key indications that a child might have Type 1 diabetes and a simple blood glucose TEST is required urgently. Moreover, these symptoms are the same for adults – and not everyone is aware that Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age.
Professor Edna Roche, University of Dublin, Trinity College and Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist, CHI at Tallaght University Hospital developed and leads the Irish Childhood Diabetes National Register (ICDNR): “We all need to know the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes so we can recognise them early and take action. The symptoms are the key indicators a child might have Type 1 diabetes. As schools reopen, we are asking all school staff to know the symptoms, look out for them during school time and don’t hesitate to speak to parents about any concerns you may have. Delays in diagnosis can happen because the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are subtle, so we need to act quickly”.
The sooner we act, the better – a delay in the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes can quickly lead to a life-threatening complication called Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). On average, 25 children are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in Ireland each month. In 2020, over 40% of new admissions with diabetes had DKA. This is an increase from 31.6% % in the period 2011-2015 and has increased steadily from 2016.
Professor Hilary Hoey, Chairperson of Diabetes Ireland said: “Delays in the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes is an ongoing problem in Ireland, and COVID-19 pandemic made it even worse. Acting fast is so important and has great benefits – early recognition of symptoms will enable earlier diagnosis and treatment and allows to avoid the development of DKA. Avoiding DKA can make the initial treatment much easier for children and their families and has short- and long-term benefits”.
What action to take when you recognize the symptoms? Share your thoughts and observations with parents/carers, as soon as you have noticed them. A simple finger-prick blood glucose TEST (by a GP or Pharmacist) can be enough to check whether the person who has the TEST symptoms may have Type 1 diabetes and should be immediately seen by a health-care professional. TEST is the key to diagnose Type 1 diabetes and lower the risk and prevalence of DKA.
This campaign is supported by the Irish Childhood Diabetes National Register (ICDNR), Diabetes Ireland and Novo Nordisk Ltd.