Northern school children learn 4Ts of Diabetes

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Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) in the Northern area are working together with Diabetes UK and the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) to highlight the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.

Research by Diabetes UK has shown that up to nine out of ten parents do not know the four main symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. To address this lack of awareness, the charity created a campaign to highlight the ‘4Ts’ of Type 1 diabetes symptoms.

The 4 T’s stand for Toilet, Thirsty, Tired and Thinner:

Toilet - going to the loo a lot, bed wetting by a usually 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 normal.

Northern ICPs are raising awareness by distributing 4Ts campaign posters and briefing materials to all primary schools throughout the NEELB area. ICPs are networks of GPs, pharmacists, health and social care staff, voluntary and community groups and service users and carers, all of whom are working together to improve joined up and person centred care.

Dr Brian Connor, ICP Lead for Diabetes said: “ICPs are now working in local areas to improve care for long term conditions such as diabetes and promoting early diagnosis and early treatment as an important part of that work. Developing Type 1 Diabetes is a major event in a child’s life and many present when seriously unwell with ketoacidosis. In younger children this may be even more difficult to diagnose. The 4Ts (toilet, tired, thinner and thirst) campaign seeks to raise awareness about the onset of diabetes in a memorable way and I would ask that you give it your wholehearted support.”

The campaign will also raise awareness among healthcare professionals. Posters and briefing materials will be distributed to Emergency Departments, pharmacies and GP practices across the Northern Local Commissioning Group (LCG) area in the coming weeks.

Brendan Heaney, Policy & Public Affairs Manager at Diabetes UK NI said: “There are now 1,070 children and young people living with Type 1 diabetes in Northern Ireland. A lack of awareness 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.

“We believe that everyone who knows a child should be aware of the 4Ts of Type 1 diabetes, remember them, and know what to do if they spot them. This is because onset can be so quick that a delay of a matter of hours can be the difference between being diagnosed early and being diagnosed too late.”