Type 2 Diabetes in Children: Its Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Diabetes is a disease which is caused either due to the lack of proper production of insulin by the pancreas or due to the improper use of insulin in the human body. This gives rise to the blood sugar level or the glucose level in the body since the hormone insulin is responsible for the essential breakdown of carbohydrates and fats which, in turn, help in maintaining the required level of sugar and glucose in the blood. It is imperative to understand diabetes better because this comes with a lot of complications which include cardiovascular diseases, kidney-related diseases, diabetic eye, nerve damage, etc.

The two main types of diabetes include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. This article deals with the signs and symptoms, causes, and the subsequent treatment of type 2 diabetes in children. Type 2 diabetes is known to be the most common form of diabetes. It is said that around 90% of all the diabetic patients are the ones who contract type 2 diabetes and it mostly affects girls rather than boys.

So, read on and discover more about type 2 diabetes. Join in the article “Type 2 Diabetes: Its Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body has become insulin resistant. This means that the pancreas is functioning efficiently and the body does produce insulin. However, in type 2 diabetes the cells in your child’s body do not respond to this hormone, and as a result, glucose from the food we eat is accumulated in the bloodstream of the child. This, in turn, leads to the sugar levels in the body getting too high and then develops complications such as blindness, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, nerve damage, amongst others.

When Do You Know That Your Child Has Type 2 Diabetes? Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Type 2 Diabetes in Children

As mentioned above, type 2 diabetes, like type 1 diabetes, is a condition that a child will not contract all of a sudden. The condition is said to develop only gradually. However, the same is not true for the symptoms. These signs of diabetes in children are noticed only suddenly.

Symptoms and Signs of Type 2 Diabetes

Following are the signs of type 2 diabetes in children:

  • When the child is suffering from type 2 diabetes, he or she will experience increased thirst as well the frequent need to urinate. This happens because as we know, with diabetes, there is an increase in the level of blood glucose in the child’s body. When this glucose builds up in the bloodstream of your child, the blood cells start pulling all fluids from the cells. As a result, your child feels thirsty more frequently for want of fluids. With this, there is an increasing frequency to urinate as well.
  • With diabetes type 2, the cells do not have enough sugar. As a result, there is a lack of energy in the child. He or she feels fatigue at all times.
  • With the blood glucose and sugar levels being too high, the necessary fluids are extracted from the lenses of the eyes of your child. This results in him or her getting a blurred vision.
  • To some extent and in rare cases, the child might experience some amount of weight loss as well. However, loss of weight is more common in juvenile diabetes than in type 2.
  • Like in the case of another diabetes type, healing of sores and wounds take a lot of time when your child has type 2 diabetes.
  • Another symptom of this type of diabetes is that there could be numbness or irritation that can be caused in the hands and feet of the child,
  • Dry mouth, as well as itchy skin, could be amongst a few other symptoms.
  • Besides, when your child is suffering from diabetes, there is not much insulin in his or her body which would provide the much-needed energy and fuel to your child’s body cells. As a result, there is a frequent desire to eat food as it is food which provides the necessary energy.
  • In type 2 diabetes, as we know, the body becomes resistant to the insulin which is produced by the pancreas. This leads to the darkening of the skin in the child, the darkening is much more evident in certain areas of the skin which includes the armpits and the neck. This darkening is also known as acanthosis nigricans.

When your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms or signs, you immediately need to get him or her checked for developing type 2 diabetes.

What are the Causes of Type 2 Diabetes?

Although the exact cause of type 2 diabetes remains unknown, there could be several reasons why the disease is contracted by anyone. In this particular section, we will explore the causes that may be responsible for giving rise to type 2 diabetes.

Genetic Reasons

Some of the research conducted by scientists show that one of the major reasons which lead to the development of type 2 diabetes is the genes that you inherit. According to the research, a few people will not develop this condition at all as they do not have the genes to do so. Also, the research points out to the fact that the HLA complex is what determines the onset of a condition like diabetes and hence it is the genes which play a major role. This is very similar to that of type 1 diabetes.

In fact, a study conducted by the elite organization, American Diabetes Association, have made the following inferences from a study conducted by its reputed and knowledgeable experts:

  • If both your parents have it, there are 50% chances that you shall have type 2 diabetes too.
  • If one of your parents was diagnosed with it after the age of 50, the chances of you inheriting the same are 1 in 13.
  • If one of your parents was diagnosed with it before the age of 50, the chances of you inheriting the same are 1 in 7.

Geography

Place where you are staying can also cause and increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes condition, just as it affected type 1 diabetes condition. People and children who belong to the climates in the northern part of the world are more susceptible to contract both the types of diabetes. The reason for the same, as explained by the experts is that people who stay in the northern climates usually experience too cold temperatures and as such, they mostly stay indoors. The human contact in such a case is too high. With this, there are higher chances of getting and exchanging viruses. Besides, researchers have also observed that the cases diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are higher during winters when compared to that during summers

Race to Which the Family Belongs

A few studies conducted by the experts also suggest that the race to which you belong also makes you more or less susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. Some of the races in which type 2 diabetes is more common include African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, as well as Pacific Islanders.

Over-Weight

When your child is overweight, the fat which has built around the muscles and tissues makes his or her body more and more resistant to the hormone, insulin. This makes your child more prone to getting diabetes.

According to American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes and obesity are interlinked to one another. Here’s how:  Obesity, as we know, leads to high levels of blood glucose in our body. The reasons are:

  • When you are obese, the body metabolism is weak. Losing some weight helps to improve metabolism, thereby preventing high blood sugar levels.
  • When you are overweight, your self-confidence is adversely affected. Stress give rise to the level of cortisol, which, in turn, leads to increasing blood glucose levels.

Thus, if your child is overweight, there are very high chances that he or she will contract type 2 diabetes.

Lack of Physical Activity

The more your child is active physically, the lesser are his or her chances of contracting type 2 diabetes. When the child is active physically, the weight remains under control, there is an appropriate utilization of glucose for the release of energy, and the child’s body is better able to absorb insulin efficiently.

Age and Sex

Age and sex of the child also have a lot to do with type 2 diabetes. It is a known fact that most of the children develop type 2 diabetes during the time of puberty. Also, it’s a known fact that girls are more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes than are the boys.

Weight at the Time of Birth & Gestational Diabetes

Finally, if you as a mother, had gestational diabetes at the time of giving birth, there are high chances that your child shall contract type 2 diabetes. Besides, if the child has low weight at the time of birth, he or she is definitely more prone to get type 2 diabetes.

Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

The major treatment of type 2 diabetes includes managing your child’s diet, physical activity, and weight control, some medications, and blood sugar monitoring. Following are a few available treatments:

Treatment Through Diet

It is a well-known fact that the best way to manage diabetes is to keep a watch on the food that you eat. As such, following are a few guidelines that could be handy in helping you follow a diet that will help to manage diabetes in an effective manner:

  • Concentrate on a lot of fruits, green leafy vegetables, etc. for your diet.
  • Mediterranean type of food that consists of a lot of fruits, herbs, and medicines, olive oil, etc.
  • Make sure that when you are consuming food which has carbohydrates in them, the glycemic load present therein should be low in such foods
  • For every calorie consumed, you need to make sure you get all the essential vitamin, nutrient, and fiber.
  • You should carefully intake only the recommended quantity of protein, which in most cases is around 6 ounces. This includes eggs, beans, soy foods, peas, amongst other sources of protein.
  • The quantum of carbohydrates intake will determine the amount of insulin which needs to be taken by those who suffer from diabetes.
  • Fats are useful as they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. This goes a long way in helping to maintain a balanced level of blood glucose in the body. Some examples of essential fats include food items such as olive oil and nuts.
  • Besides, fiber-rich food is also considered essential for the treatment of type1 diabetes.
  • Some of the recommended food items for type 2 diabetes include oatmeal, nuts, beets, beans, carrots. Onion, cucumber, etc.
  • Recommended fruits include berries, apples, grapefruit, bananas, etc.

It is hereby important to note that the above eating plan is to keep yourself healthy in general, and not just for type 2 diabetic patient.

Physical Activity

As seen above, one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes is the lack of physical exercise which builds up the glucose in the bloodstream of the child. You can go for any forms of exercise such as swimming, dancing, aerobics, biking, etc. experts prefer 30 minutes of exercising which could include combinations of several exercises. You could also go for yoga and meditation. Yoga can make your self-confidence grow and also keep away all stress.

Having said that, it is very important for you to check how the physical activity is affecting your blood sugar levels. If it does not raise the blood sugar level, it is only then that you should go for the physical exercise. Hence, medical advice is always preferred.

Blood Sugar Monitoring

Another important consideration, while you try to manage type 2 diabetes in your child, is to regularly monitor the level of blood sugar or blood glucose. The following prescribed range of blood glucose should be kept in mind:

  • For a diabetic patient, the fasting blood sugar is under 126mg/dl or even higher.
  • As per the American Diabetes Association, the normal blood sugar for a diabetic should be around 80-130mg/dl before the meals and around 200mg/dl a couple of hours after meals.

Hence, regular consultation with the doctor is a must to ensure that the blood sugar levels are kept under control. Besides, if you are someone who is taking insulin on a regular basis, you need to check the blood glucose levels more than once in a day.

Medical Treatments

In order to treat this form of diabetes, the following medical treatments are available:

Metformin

This drug helps in improving the sensitivity of the body cells to insulin. Besides, it also helps by decreasing the production of glucose by the liver.

Sulfonylureas

This medicine helps those who are suffering from type 2 diabetes by enhancing the production of insulin in the body.

DPP-4 Inhibitors

The inhibitors help to maintain low levels of blood sugar, while also helping the body to maintain balanced body weight.

Meglitinides

They help in the treatment of type 2 diabetes by helping the pancreas secrete more insulin. However, you need to be a little careful while taking this drug as it might cause weight gain.

Insulin

Unlike in type 1 diabetes, taking insulin is not a necessity because the problem has to do with the cells ability to utilize insulin efficiently. However, in the later stages of type 2 diabetes, the taking of insulin from various external sources becomes a must. In recent diagnosis, however, the medical experts have started recommending the use of insulin for type 2 diabetics at comparatively early stages. Most frequently used insulin includes the long- acting insulin which is generally injected at night while sleeping.

Bariatric Surgery

If your child suffers from type 2 diabetes, while having a Body Mass Index of 35 or above, you might as well go for a weight loss surgery, popularly known as Bariatric surgery in order to bring the blood glucose within the normal range.

We hope that the article has been helpful in making you understand more about type 2 diabetes in children, its causes, symptoms, as well as what is the treatment available for this condition. While dealing with it, remember that you need to be consistent with the type of lifestyle that you are following and also keep yourself motivated. Do not ever think that your child is the only one suffering from the condition. There are others who are dealing with this condition every day and are trying to help their child lead a life as healthy and normal as possible!!

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