Our Nurse’s Corner: What Every Parent Should Know About Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a long term disease that is caused by high blood sugar levels and high blood sugar over time causes lasting damage to many body systems. Until a few years ago, Type 2 diabetes was rare in children but it is becoming more common, especially for overweight teens. According to the US Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), one in three American children born after 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes in his or her lifetime.

It is recommended that students displaying or experiencing the risk factors and warning signs be tested for the disease:

Risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes:

  • Being overweight (this is the number one risk factor)
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Not being active
  • High Cholesterol
  • Being from the following race/ethnicity: African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Native American
  • Parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes
  • Puberty

Warning signs associated with Type 2 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • High blood pressure
  • Longer healing time for sores and cuts
  • Headaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Blurred or decreased vision
  • Irregular periods, no periods and/or excess facial and body hair growth in girls
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • A thickening and darkening of the skin usually seen in skin folds in the back of the neck

Untreated diabetes can result in health problems such as heart disease, kidney failure and impaired vision. Early detection and diagnosis are extremely important as Type 2 diabetes can be managed and controlled with healthy lifestyle choices and medication, if needed. Properly managing diabetes may prevent long term damage to the blood vessels in the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.

A healthy Lifestyle may help prevent your child (and you) from getting Type 2 diabetes. This includes:

  • Eating healthy: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, avoid “fast” foods or processed foods
  • Exercising regularly: The CDC recommends 60 minutes of daily exercise
  • Losing weight if overweight: Eating the right size food portions as recommended by the US Department of Agriculture at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

If you think your child/teenager has risk factors or warning signs for Type 2 diabetes have him/her see his/her doctor who will determine whether he/she needs to be tested.

If you would like to learn more, below are some links with excellent resources in regards to Type 2 diabetes information, prevention, diagnosis and treatment:

http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/projects/cda2.htm
http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/endocrine/type2.html#
http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/skin-problems
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes-in-children/basics/definition/con-20030124
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000313.htm

Article by Dagmar Paul, RN, MSN/District Nurse

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