Type 2 Diabetes in Children: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Type 2 diabetes is said to be an adult disease, however more and more children are being diagnosed with the metabolic disorder. For decades, this disease was considered an adult-only condition. Unfortunately, what was once a disease primarily faced by these adult individuals is becoming more common in children. And the blame? The driving factor behind the rise in type 2 diabetes in children is the obesity epidemic. Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity numbers have skyrocketed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , obesity in children has doubled in this period.At the same time, obesity in teenagers has quadrupled. Being overweight is closely linked to the development of type 2 diabetes . Overweight children have an increased likelihood of insulin complications. As the body struggles to regulate insulin, high blood sugar leads to a number of potentially serious health problems.

How Glucose and Insulin Works: When you eat, the body converts food into energy. This energy is in the form of a sugar, called glucose. Glucose is the body’s main fuel. When a person eats, glucose enters the blood, and blood sugar levels begin to rise. When this happens, the body tells the pancreas to create insulin. Insulin helps cells in the body to absorb and use glucose.

However, if a person has type 2 diabetes , their body has difficulty using insulin. Without the help of insulin, blood glucose remains in the bloodstream. This leads to high blood sugar levels. These high sugar levels can cause symptoms and signs associated with diabetes. Eventually, high blood sugar levels can become dangerous.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Children: The signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes are not always easy to spot. In some cases, the disease develops gradually, which means that symptoms are difficult to notice. In other cases, children may not show any obvious signs. If you believe your child has diabetes, it’s important to keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Fatigue: If your child seems unusually tired or sleepy, their body may not have enough sugar to adequately fuel their normal bodily functions.
    Thirst: Children who suffer from excessive thirst may have high blood sugar levels.
  • Frequent urination: Excessive sugar levels in the bloodstream can draw fluid from the body’s tissues. This can cause the child to run to the bathroom at frequent intervals.
  • Increased Hunger: Children with diabetes don’t have the insulin they need to supply their body’s cells with fuel. Food becomes the next best source of energy, so children may be hungry more often.
  • Weight Loss: Even if children are eating normally, or even eating more than normal, they can lose weight if they have developed type 2 diabetes. An adequate supply of glucose keeps muscle tissue and fat cells functioning, so when blood sugar levels glucose are fluctuating, the muscles and fat cells choose.
  • Slow-healing wounds: Wounds or infections that are resistant to healing or slow to heal can be a sign of type 2 diabetes .
  • Darkened Skin: If the child has type 2 diabetes, there is a possibility of noticing areas of darkened skin; also called acanthosis nigricans . Insulin resistance can cause the skin to darken, most commonly in the armpits and neck.

How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes in Children: Parents, teachers, educators and community leaders can help children become healthy and avoid diabetes. To prevent diabetes in children, try these techniques:

  • Practice healthy habits: Children who eat well-balanced meals and limit their intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates are less likely to become obese and develop diabetes.
  • Get moving: Regular exercise is important for diabetes prevention. Organized sports or neighborhood games are the best ways for children to move and be active. The limited television time and outdoor game encouragement is interesting.
  • Setting a good example: Children learn by their parents’ example, so the ideal is to be active with the child and encourage good habits through demonstration.

Treatment and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in Children: If parents are concerned that their child may have type 2 diabetes , the tip is to make an appointment with the pediatrician. Explain any perceived symptoms and signs, and ask what next steps to take to determine whether your child’s symptoms are caused by diabetes or another condition. Also, it’s important to get to your child’s doctor early in the process. If not properly diagnosed and treated, diabetes can cause serious damage to a child’s body, even in a short period of time. Fortunately, treatment and assistance can help parents and children take control of symptoms, in relation to their overall health and future.

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