Diabetes often misdiagnosed in children – Endocrinologist
A consultant physician and endocrinologist in the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, has revealed that contrary to the widespread belief that diabetes mellitus affects only adults, the condition also affects children but is often misdiagnosed.
Speaking with Pharmanews in an exclusive interview, Dr Ifedayo Adeola Odeniyi, a Fellow of the American College of Endocrinology and honorary consultant endocrinologist for the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, noted that while Type 2 diabetes sometimes occurs, the Type 1 variant is the commonest type seen in children.
According to him, the onset of diabetes can be noticed at any stage after the neonatal period, but it is most common in childhood and adolescence. He added that the usual cause of the ailment is absolute deficiency of insulin.
On the symptoms of the condition, Odeniyi said the major ones are weight loss, excessive passage of urine, bedwetting, excessive thirst and tiredness (not wanting to work or play). He stated also that children could suffer from a severe complication of diabetes mellitus, called diabetic ketoacidosis, which may lead to shock, coma and eventually death.
“Diabetes in children is often misdiagnosed as some other condition,” says Odeniyi.“For example, it is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia or asthma, which manifests through laboured breathing; as appendicitis or gastroenteritis, which manifests through abdominal pain and vomiting; and as a serious infection as malaria, typhoid, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, meningitis etc. It could also manifest as urinary tract infection or as malnutrition, through weight loss and tiredness.”
While blaming the recent upsurge in the number of people living with diabetes on lifestyle and environmental factors, the diabetetologist however disclosed that those with a family history of diabetes mellitus are more vulnerable to the condition.
“The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) puts the prevalence of diabetes in Nigeria at 4.64 per cent as at 2014 and this is projected to increased to 5.47 per cent by 2035. There is also increase awareness of diabetes mellitus by the populace and the health care practitioners. This has led to more people being diagnosed as having diabetes mellitus. However, according to statistics from the IDF, 50 per cent of people with diabetes mellitus are still not diagnosed,”Odeniyi said.
The specialist also listed factors that lead to complications in diabetes to include poor education about the disease, non-compliance with medications, lack of finance to get right medications, lack of motivation on the part of the patients and lack of knowledge in managing the patient on the part of the medical practitioner.
The don however advised the government to further assist in enhancing diabetes care and management in the country by improving on the education, training and support of health professionals He said such initiative will boost their capacity to identify diabetes early and treat it cost-effectively, while also developing innovative ways of extending the geographical reach of health services to improve access to care and education for people with diabetes, especially those in low and middle-income classes.
“Government should also ensure that essential care (which includes risk assessment and early diagnosis), essential low-cost medicines, treatments and self-care education appropriate to people’s needs are made available. They must ensure that the safest and most proven medicines are purchased at the lowest possible prices, while they strive to improve drug distribution systems to ensure continuity in the availability of essential diabetes medicines”, Odeniyi said.