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September 02, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

Why Type 2 Diabetes is Increasing in Children and Teens?

Type 2 diabetes tends to occur in adults, but it is on the rise amongst children and teenagers as well. This form of diabetes stops the breakdown of glucose in the body, causing it to remain in the bloodstream. The result is a high blood sugar level that leads to serious health issues for the individual. Typically, patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes need insulin intake daily and strict control over their diet. Type 2 diabetes may result in severe health complications in the future, such as heart diseases, high blood pressure and cholesterol, weak kidneys, and even a stroke. 

Reasons for rising type 2 diabetes in children

While type 2 diabetes is frequent among adults and the elderly, obesity and unhealthy eating habits have caused it to become a common illness amongst youngsters. Many blame it on genetics; however, lack of physical activity and belly fat are leading causes of increasing numbers of children with type 2 diabetes. Insulin, the hormone responsible for breaking glucose down in the body, either becomes ineffective in the body or is produced in smaller amounts than required. This increases the blood sugar level. The majority of the youth has become inactive with an inclination towards junk food. The body's food intake is in excess, and the insulin is not enough to convert it into the energy required for cells, which causes diabetes in a person.

Warning signs of diabetes in children

It is better if diabetes can be checked and controlled at an early stage, especially amongst children. However, type 2 diabetes is sudden amongst children and cannot be diagnosed separately. It is usually found during a routine check-up, but there may be a few symptoms that parents can keep track of in some cases. Type 2 diabetes symptoms include:

1.      Lethargy: A child may become tired or fatigued because of low sugar levels in the cells.

2.      Thirst and urination: A high amount of sugar in the blood sucks water from the tissues, making a child thirsty more often and causing them to urinate more frequently.

3.      Loss of weight: Since the body cannot provide the required energy by breaking sugar down, the mass of tissues and fat deposits decreases, causing children to lose weight. This is not a common symptom of type 2 diabetes.

4.      Vision: If the sugar level is high in the blood, it absorbs the water content from tissues and can suck fluid from the lenses, causing children to have blurred vision and lack of focus.

5.      Darkening of skin: Prior to developing type 2 diabetes, children may experience darkening of some areas of the skin. This includes the area close to the neck and armpits. 

Parents should keep track of these symptoms in their children and ensure that they remain healthy and fit. If any of these symptoms show up in a child, they should be taken to a doctor for a check-up immediately.

When to test children for diabetes

If any of the symptoms are observed within a child, they should be taken for diabetic screening. Children who are obese or overweight and above the age of 10 should go through the screening. Moreover, if there is a family history of diabetes or any symptoms, such as insulin resistance or darkening of the skin, children should follow a routine check-up for diabetes. If left undiagnosed, diabetes can cause severe damage to the body and lead to undesirable consequences. The diabetes test is quite simple and can be conducted through two methods. The doctor can either prick the finger for a blood test or collect a urine sample for traces of glucose. Toddlers' diabetes tests are also similar to those of slightly older children and teenagers.

Prevention of diabetes in children

Diabetes is a lifelong disease that can't be treated and can only be controlled with oral medication or insulin injections. If left untreated, diabetes can have severe side effects on the body. However, it is essential to prevent this disease from developing in youngsters rather than treating it. The easiest way to keep it at bay is by implementing a healthy lifestyle for your children, including a suitable diet and increased physical activity. Switching to more fruits and vegetables is recommended rather than feeding children food that has high calories and fat content. Similarly, it is necessary that children play sports and keep themselves physically fit. This regime can be followed to prevent diabetes not only in children but adults as well.

 

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and a healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.

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