Type 2 Diabetes in Kids: Causes, Signs & Treatment

Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Type 2 diabetes was a rare condition in young children years ago, but that’s not the case anymore. If your child is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, obviously you will be worried, but you must understand that with various advancements in the medical field, such a condition can be easily managed now. Let us discuss more on type 2 diabetes in children. Learn about its causes and signs, and the various treatment options available.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to process sugar. When we consume carbohydrate-rich foods, our body breaks down the carbs into glucose. The pancreas release insulin, a hormone that helps in the movement of this glucose from our blood to the various cells in our body, which in turn is used by our body as a form of fuel. However, when the insulin in the body is unable to function, the glucose keeps getting collected in the bloodstream and increases sugar levels in the body. Insulin resistance may also lead to various other conditions such as kidney failure, blindness, and heart diseases too.

How Is Type 2 Diabetes Different From Type 1 Diabetes? 

Many times type 2 diabetes may be mistaken for type 1 diabetes, until the more comprehensive tests are performed. However, there is a substantial amount of difference in both types of diabetes. Where type 1 diabetes majorly occurs due to problems with the immune system, type 2 diabetes is generally seen in children because of hereditary reasons, but it is majorly due to the unhealthy or wrong lifestyle.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Following are some of the reasons that may cause diabetes in children:

  • Genetics play a major role; if a parent has this condition, there are chances that the child may have it too.
  • It may occur in case your kid is overweight or obese.

Who Is More Likely to Get Affected?

Type 2 diabetes is more likely to affect the following children:

  • Overweight children.
  • A child whose siblings or any close relative has type 2 diabetes.
  • A child with a problem of insulin resistance.
  • Children of Asian, African-American, or American-Indian origin.
  • A child who has unhealthy eating habits and leads a sedentary lifestyle.
  • The risk of type 2 diabetes is higher in girls as compared to boys.

Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes 

Here are some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children:

1. Thirst

If your child is thirsty all the time, this may be due to the increased levels of sugar in his blood.

2. Frequent Bathroom Visits

If your child goes to the bathroom often to pee, then don’t ignore it. More amount of sugar in the blood leads to more sugar in the urine, and thus it explains the more bathroom visits.

3. Increased Hunger

If your child is hungrier than usual, it could be due to the undigested sugar in the body that decreases the body’s energy resources. As children with diabetes do not have enough insulin in their body to fuel up their body’s cells, food becomes the next resource. Hence, a child eats more than usual.

A child hungry eating junk food

4. Fatigue

As the body’s energy resources deplete, your child may feel tired and lethargic, and this could be an indication that he may be suffering from type 2 diabetes.

5. Dark Skin Patches

Your child may suffer from acanthosis nigricans, a condition where the skin starts turning dark, particularly, around the armpits and neck. This usually happens in case of increased sugar levels in the body.

6. Wounds Take More Time to Heal

If your child has an injury, which has not healed yet, it could be due to type 2 diabetes. Increased sugar levels in the body hamper the healing process, and thus it may take longer than usual for the wounds to heal completely.

How Does Type 2 Diabetes Impact a Child’s Body?

Type 2 diabetes can lead to certain health complications if not managed properly or if it remains undiagnosed. Here are some complications that may arise due to 2 diabetes:

1. Common Complications

  • High levels of cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Blindness
  • Amputation
  • Skin conditions
  • Stroke

2. Long-Term Risks

The long-term complications of type 2 diabetes occur gradually as the child grows. Some of the type 2 diabetes complications that are mentioned above may become severe and in some cases, these conditions can also lead to life-threatening conditions.

How Is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that your child may be suffering from type 2 diabetes, your doctor may do a thorough check-up of your kid and may conduct the following tests too:

  • Blood glucose test
  • Urine glucose test
  • A1C test
  • Glucose tolerance test

How to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

The course of treatment for children will be more or less similar to the treatment for adults. However, it may vary as per the severity and health of your child. Here are some tips that your child’s doctor might suggest along with prescribing medication:

1. Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

You may have to keep monitoring your child’s blood sugar on a regular basis. You may have to procure a blood glucose checking device for the same.

2. Ensure Your Child Eats Healthy Food and Engages in Physical Exercise

Your child may be given special dietary instructions that he should adhere to, and he may also be told about various exercises to lose weight.

A child eating healthy food

Tips to Help Your Child 

Here are some tips that you may help your child manage this condition in a better way:

  • Keep monitoring your child’s blood sugar levels on a regular basis.
  • Ensure that your child maintains a normal and healthy weight.
  • Help your child make better and healthier eating choices rather than loading on calories by eating refined and sugary food.
  • Make sure you are prompt in noticing any signs and symptoms of another ailment that may occur due to type 2 diabetes.
  • Make sure that your child takes his medicines on time.
  • Engage your child in physical activities. Encourage him to go outdoors and play and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Be in touch with your child’s doctor and be updated on your child’s treatment plan. Also, learn about various changes that may be required.

Effective Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes 

Listed below are some tips that should help prevent diabetes in children and adults!

  • Ask your child to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and embrace outdoor activities.
  • Make sure your child eats a nutritious diet.
  • Encourage your child to drink water to stay hydrated. Ask them to choose water over any aerated beverage.
  • Make sure your child has fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Ensure your child gets enough sleep.
  • If your child is overweight, help him lose weight.
  • Include low-fat dairy products in your child’s diet rather than full-fat products.

When to Call a Doctor

The moment you spot the signs of type 2 diabetes in your toddler, seek immediate medical help. If this ailment remains undiagnosed, it may lead to life-threatening complications. Hence, prompt medical help will not only control your child’s symptoms, but it will also lower the chances of complications too.

Of course, if your child has type 2 diabetes, you will be worried, but don’t lose hope. Prompt diagnosis and medical assistance can help control this condition.

Also Read: Frequent Urination in Kids

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