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Type 2 Diabetes in Children - Treatment Overview

Medicines

Your child may need medicines if eating healthy meals and getting regular physical activity have not lowered your child's blood sugar to his or her target level.

  • Medicines for diabetes help the body produce more insulin, decrease the body's resistance to insulin, or slow the absorption of carbohydrate from the intestine. Your child may need one medicine at some times and more than one at other times.
  • Some children need daily insulin shots—alone or with other medicines. Even if your doctor does not prescribe daily insulin, your child may need to take insulin temporarily when first diagnosed or during illness or surgery. If the progression of diabetes cannot be stopped, your child eventually may need to take insulin daily.

Checking blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol

Your child's blood sugar level may need to be checked regularly, for example, before breakfast and 2 hours after meals.

If your child has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, those conditions need to be treated.

  • High blood pressure is usually treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitorsor angiotensin ll receptor blockers (ARBs), because these medicines also protect the circulatory system and the kidneys from damage caused by diabetes. Sexually active teens should be warned that ACE inhibitors and ARBs should not be taken during pregnancy.
  • Weight loss and well-controlled blood sugar can help lower your child's cholesterol. Your child's doctor may recommend medicine if these lifestyle changes do not lower cholesterol. Sexually active teens should be warned against becoming pregnant while taking these medicines.

What to think about

Some children have very high blood sugar levels when they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. A child with a very high blood sugar level may develop the serious chemical imbalance diabetic ketoacidosis and need to be treated with insulin in a hospital. After blood sugar returns to a target level, the child usually no longer needs insulin. His or her own body may start making enough insulin again.

Treating diabetes with medicine increases the risk for low blood sugar episodes. Your child's doctor will determine the target range for your child's blood sugar that will prevent damage from diabetes while causing as few low blood sugar episodes as possible.

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