Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults more often than in kids. However, sometimes when children are affected by type 2 diabetes, they are not only looking at a number of life-threatening diseases but also lifelong management.
While type 2 diabetes was initially thought to be an adult-onset condition but with the sedentary lifestyle of children, it has become more common in children as well. Due to obesity and lack of exercise, it has become an epidemic set to affect millions of children worldwide.
Let’s look at some things worth knowing about type two diabetes in children.
Causes of Diabetes in Children
While the exact cause of this disease has still not been determined, it has been observed that genetics and family history play an important role as risk factors. Sedentary lifestyle, presence of excessive fat, and inactivity may be the reasons as well. The body of a type-2 diabetic is unable to breakdown and transport glucose as efficiently as before. Due to this, instead of being distributed among body cells, the sugar accumulates in the blood, raising the overall glucose levels. Foods that we eat, especially carb-rich foods, are the main source of this sugar. This sugar, after being broken down into glucose, is transported to various cells with the help of insulin. However, in the case of type-2 diabetes, the body either becomes resistant to this enzyme (insulin) or is unable to produce enough insulin to meet its requirements. It is not known why some children develop type 2 diabetes when other children with the same risk factors do not. These risk factors include obesity, inactivity, family history of diabetes, ethnicity (it has been seen that Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, People of Asiatic origin, Hispanics, and People of African origin are more prone to developing this form of diabetes). Also, age plays a key role here. It has been seen that adolescent girls are more likely to develop diabetes-related issues when compared to boys of the same age.
Symptoms of Type-2 Diabetes in Children
The difference between type 2 diabetes in adults and children lie in their symptoms. While adults may be able to spot them and get diagnosed by a doctor, 40% of diabetic children have no symptoms and the disease is spotted only during routine checkups. Other children may experience symptoms similar to those of adults, including increased thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections and slow healing of sores. The disease also affects a child’s ability to concentrate, which is another sign to look out for.
Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The disease is either caught in routine check-ups or when the symptoms are brought to the attention of the child’s doctor. The screening (usually a blood sugar test) for type 2 diabetes is recommended for any child or teen who is overweight or obese and has some of the associated risk factors.
Complications associated with Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Apart from affecting nearly every major organ in the body of the child, diabetes type 2 can give rise to life-threatening conditions as well. Eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels are few of those organs that are affected first. Wounds, if left unattended, can lead to serious procedures like amputation since diabetes greatly reduces the body’s ability to heal itself.
The following complications may arise in children with this condition.
- Cardiovascular diseases
- High cholesterol
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- High blood pressure
Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The first step in managing diabetes in children is following the recommendation of a specialist or visit here. Eating healthy foods with low fat and low simple carbs can go a long way. Along with a diet plan, the child may also have to follow an exercise regimen to reduce body fat and increase activity. Closely monitoring the sugar levels in the child’s blood can significantly decrease the risk of complications.
Diabetes is no longer an ailment of adults; it is affecting more and more children as well. Due to limited awareness, parents and caregivers may feel that being obese as a child might not pose health risks, but the recent findings have proven otherwise.
Better lifestyle choices must be made in order to provide a child with a better quality of life, regardless of whether or not they suffer from diabetes type 2.