According to the CDC, more than 208,000 under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes. Doctors used to be under the impression that children could only get type 1 diabetes—also known as juvenile diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes, which is linked to those who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or have a problem called insulin resistance, has become a growing issue among children. Before you can identify type 2 diabetes in children, it’s important to know what it is.
WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES
When you eat a carbohydrate, it is broken down by your body and turned into a type of sugar called glucose. In order to keep the glucose moving from your blood into your cells (where it can be used for fuel), your pancreas creates a hormone called insulin.
When someone has type 2 diabetes, the cells in their body don’t respond to insulin, causing the glucose to build up in their bloodstream. This is also known as insulin resistance. Eventually, the sugar levels become too high for the body to handle.
WHAT CAUSES TYPE 2 DIABETES
When someone is overweight, their risk of type 2 diabetes increases by double. In the United States, nearly 1 out of every 3 children is overweight, which has caused the number of type 2 diabetes cases to increase as well. Unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and family history of obesity are all factors that contribute to diabetes.
SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
While symptoms may not be noticeable at first, eventually, someone with type 2 diabetes will experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Hungry or thirsty a lot, even after eating
- Dry mouth
- Peeing a lot
- Blurred vision
- Heavy breathing
- Slow healing of sores or cuts
- Itchy skin
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
TREATING TYPE 2 DIABETES
If you believe your child has type 2 diabetes, it’s important to get him or her to the doctor immediately. A doctor will test your child’s blood sugar for diabetes. If the results come back positive, they may also test to see if it’s type 1 or type 2.
If your child is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the doctor will likely suggest lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. A medication called metformin may also be recommended. Regular doctor visits will be necessary to ensure your child’s numbers stay consistent.
If you believe your child is suffering from diabetes symptoms, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.