Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children develop slowly. Initially, there may be no symptoms. Eventually, you may notice one or more of these symptoms:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased hunger or thirst, even after eating
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Heavy breathing
- Slow healing of sores or cuts
- Itchy skin
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
It is time to visit your child's doctor if you notice any of these symptoms of diabetes in your child.
Consequences of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
With type 2 diabetes in children, symptoms may be minor at first. However, serious health problems may be developing. These are complications associated with type 2 diabetes in children or adults:
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
- Blood circulation and nerve damage
- Early death from complications
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The first step in treating type 2 diabetes is for your child to visit a doctor. The doctor can determine if your child is overweight based on your child's age, weight, and height. The doctor can also request tests of your child's blood sugar to see if your child has diabetes or prediabetes. If your child does have diabetes, it can be more difficult to determine if it's type 1 or type 2.
Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend giving insulin to patients if it's not clear whether they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If the doctor confirms it's type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes along with the medication metformin are recommended. Metformin and insulin are the only two blood sugar-lowering medicines approved for those younger than 18, but others are being studied.
The AAP also recommends that children with type 2 diabetes get their hemoglobin A1c levels measured every three months. The test measures average blood sugar levels over the past two or three months.
Glucose monitoring is advised for all children taking insulin or another class of diabetes medication called sulfonylureas, along with those starting or changing treatment and those who haven't met treatment goals. Recommendations on how often to check blood sugar vary, but most experts suggest three or more times a day for children on insulin and less frequent measurement, including after-meal checks, for those not on insulin. Glucose monitoring can be done with a finger stick or a continuous glucose monitor.
The AAP also recommendeds nutrition counseling, moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 60 minutes daily, and limiting screen time at home to less than two hours per day.