type 2 diabetes
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What should be the lifestyle of children with type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes in children is a chronic endocrine disease in which there is a constant increase in blood glucose due to impaired glucose metabolism. It mainly occurs in adults, but nowadays, it is common in children who are keeping a sedentary lifestyle, having poor nutrition- sweets, chocolate, candy, waffles, baked goods, etc., and are overweight (especially of the visceral type).

In a child with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas continuously makes a hormone called insulin to help the glucose get into the body’s cells, but cells don’t respond to insulin. The condition is called insulin resistance. The main factors affecting tissue resistance to insulin in children include being overweight or obese, hereditary, and ethnicity.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children 

Type 2 diabetes in children can develop gradually. Sometimes there are no symptoms that appear, but common signs and symptoms are:-

  • Frequent excessive thirst and urination:- Glucose builds up in the blood, so fluid from the tissues enters the bloodstream and excretes from the blood into the urine. Further, it causes excessive urine volume. As a result, your child starts drinking and urinating more.
  • Hunger (even after eating):- Without enough insulin, sugar cannot enter the cells, so the tissues lack energy and make you feel hungry.
  • Weight loss:- A child may lose weight despite eating more than usual due to a decrease in muscle and adipose tissue.
  • Weakness:- A child can become lethargic and irritable when glucose can’t get into his cells due to low insulin levels.
  • Visual impairment:- If the child’s blood sugar is too high, it affects normal functioning between aqueous humor flow and intraocular pressure, affecting a child’s vision.
  • Slow wound healing or frequent infections:- Type 2 diabetes affects the body’s ability to restore tissue integrity, and a child becomes more prone to frequent infections due to weak immunity. 
  • Changes in skin color:- Darkening of the skin folds (acanthosis nigricans) more often appears in the armpits or the neck due to low insulin levels.

Causes

The exact cause of the disease is unknown. Being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle and genetic factors potentially play an important role.

The main reasons for the development of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Overeating (increased appetite) leading to obesity causes insulin resistance. It is one of the main factors that cause type 2 diabetes in children.
  • Autoimmune diseases (an attack by the body’s immune system on healthy cells) possibly cause diabetes.
  • Hereditary predisposition (the family history of diabetes) increases the probability of developing the disease. Leading a healthy lifestyle: proper nutrition, physical activity, regular medical care can prevent diabetes cause. 
  • Viral infections destroy the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Among the viral infections that can cause diabetes can be rubella, viral parotitis (mumps), chickenpox, viral hepatitis, etc.
  • Excessive amounts of glucocorticosteroids and growth hormone in the blood probably reduce tissue sensitivity to insulin, causing disease.

Diagnosis

If your child shows symptoms of type 2 diabetes, a doctor may recommend the following test:-

  • Random blood sugar test:- Measures the amount of glucose or sugar in a person’s blood at any given time in the day.
  • Hemoglobin A1C test:- measures the average blood sugar level of the past two to three months
  • Blood Sugar Test (Fasting):- You need to give a sample in the morning after an overnight fast or not eating and drinking anything for 8 hours before the test except water.

Type 2 diabetes treatment in children

Treatment for type 2 diabetes in children includes constant blood sugar control, a healthy diet, and regular physical activity like exercise and yoga. Sometimes insulin or other medications are also included in the treatment. The regimen changes as a child grow. Following are the supportive methods used for controlling blood sugar.

  1. Diet:- Treatment of type 2 diabetes begins with dietary choices. What and how much your child eats affects blood sugar levels. Healthy eating habits are crucial for preventing and managing diabetes and its complications. The essential diet plan includes 50% carbohydrates, 20% proteins, and 30% fats and is committed to regular 5-6 healthy meals a day in a limit. Your child’s food should be high in fiber (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) and low in calories and fat. Try to avoid or limit sweets and foods that contain high fats (especially one that comes from animals). Take advice from a dietician or nutritionist to understand the best diet for your child’s condition.
  2. Daily exercise:- Daily exercise for type 2 diabetes is a must. The exercise routine for a child should be on the advice of a physician. Adequate physical activity helps to improve glycemic control and increases tissue sensitivity to insulin. It also enhances the absorption of glucose in the muscles and helps to maintain blood sugar levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes take at least 30 to 60 minutes a day to do moderate physical activity and not spending more than 2 hours a day in front of the TV, computer, or gadgets.
  3. Therapies & Medications:- Healthy diet and exercise are essential elements in blood sugar control in children with type 2 diabetes, but sometimes oral hypoglycemic drugs and insulin therapy play an important role.
  4. Drug:- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends metformin (Fortamet, Glucofash, Glumetza) for all children with type 2 diabetes. Metformin reduces the amount of sugar the liver releases into the bloodstream between meals.
  5. Insulin:- AAP recommends insulin therapy if your child has a blood glucose level of 250 mg / dL (13.9 mmol / L) or higher when measured randomly or an HbA1c level above 9%. Also, having excessive ketones (toxic acids) in urine (diabetic ketoacidosis).

Type 2 diabetes risk factors

Your child is at high-risk for developing type 2 diabetes if:-

  • Body mass index (BMI) is above 30
  • Family history of  type 2 diabetes (sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousin)
  • Belongs to a race of Hispanic, African American, American Indian, or Asian American and Pacific Islander

Possible complications

  • Cardiac complications:- High blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, diabetic cardiomyopathy, contractility dysfunction, and cardiac autonomic neuropathy 
  • Renal failure (poor kidney function)
  • Vision impairment (weakened eyesight) or diabetic retinopathy
  • Difficulties in controlling weight and hypoglycemia

Prevention

A healthy lifestyle can help prevent children from developing type 2 diabetes and its complications. If your child already has type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes can reduce the need for drugs.

Encourage your child to:

  • To eat healthy food. Offer your child foods that are low in fat and calories. Keep your diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The best diet for a child with diabetes is the best diet for the entire family.
  • Increase physical activity. Encourage your child to be active. Sign up for sports or dance classes, or spend time actively together.
  • If your child already has type 2 diabetes, be sure to have routine eye exams every year to understand early signs of eye disease.

FAQ

Does excessive sugar consumption cause type 2 diabetes?

Not necessary. There are multiple factors linked with type 2 diabetes-like:-

  • Race 
  • Genetic factors
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity

Does obesity lead to type 2 diabetes?

Yes! Some research shows a direct link between type 2 diabetes and obesity. The fact is that 80-85% of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is obesity or overweight.

Can sweets be consumed with type 2 diabetes?

A doctor recommends healthy eating and a diet low in sugar for a person with type 2 diabetes to avoid complications. However, it is not necessary to sidestep sugary items. Make sure to consume it within the limit as suggested by your dietitian.

What should be the lifestyle of children with type 2 diabetes?

The basic rules that a patient with type 2 diabetes must adhere to:

  • Eating fiber-rich foods like legumes, oats, vegetables, and fruits
  • Reducing cholesterol intake
  • Using sweetener instead of sugar
  • Eating food repeatedly, but in small quantities. The patient’s body will cope better with a small amount of food since it requires less insulin
  • Examining feet several times a day to ensure no injury, wash it with soap and water every day, and wipe dry
  • If you are overweight, weight loss should be your priority
  • Avoid stress
  • Get blood tests done regularly
  • Do not buy medicines without a prescription

What are natural remedies for type 2 diabetes?

Before you try any natural or home remedies, you must consult a doctor. Taking home remedies without a doctor’s advice can result in unnecessary complications. Here are some natural remedies you can try, but there is no sufficient evidence to support their benefit for treating type 2 diabetes:-

  • Lemon and egg:- Both lemon and eggs are essential foods for people with diabetes. Lemon lowers blood glucose levels, normalizes blood pressure, and eggs supply the body of diabetics patients with essential trace elements. To obtain a medicinal mixture, add one egg with 50ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (mix it well) and consume it half an hour before meals.
  • Burdock juice:- Juice from crushed burdock root may effectively reduce sugar levels. You can take it three times a day, 15 ml each, diluting this amount with 250 ml of boiled water (chilled).
  • Baked/roasted onions:- You can normalize sugar, especially in the initial phase of the disease, with the help of daily consumption of a baked onion in the morning on an empty stomach.