In recent years, children are suffering more often from Type 2 Diabetes. The precise reason for Type 2 Diabetes in children is unknown. It starts in children in the same way as it starts in adults. Children who are overweight and physically inactive and have a family history of the disease are at risk for developing Diabetes Type II. Diabetes Type II in children is on the rise because of increased obesity and inactivity. It is more common nowadays for Diabetes Type II in children because they are less likely to go outside and play. They are more likely to work at their computers, play computer games, watch TV, and other types of non-physical activity.
What causes Type 2 Diabetes in children?
Type 2 Diabetes (also called Type II Diabetes) is an everlasting disease in which the pancreas can’t make sufficient insulin, or the body’s tissues can’t utilize the insulin appropriately. When the body can’t utilize insulin properly, it is due to insulin resistance. When a child’s blood glucose level continues to be too high for an extended period of time, it is likely he/she has diabetes.
For a long time doctors assumed that Type II diabetes only occurred in adults and Type I diabetes was the children’s version of the disease. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease and has nothing to do with Type II diabetes. Children and adults who are obese are more likely to be insulin resistant. Doctors advise that people with increasing waistlines are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
There are 3 main known causes of Type 2 Diabetes in children:
Being overweight or obese
Being physically inactive
Having a family history of the disease
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone which is made in the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland that is situated just behind the stomach. Insulin helps the body’s cells to utilize glucose (sugar) to generate energy. Insulin acts as a vehicle that carries the glucose molecules into the body’s cells. The glucose must be carried across the cell membrane. This process is called active transport. Glucose is the major energy source for the body’s cells. The food your child eats creates glucose in the blood. Another source of glucose comes from glycogen from the liver. If there isn’t enough glucose in the blood at a given time, the body will take glycogen from the liver and convert into usable glucose. In turn, insulin assists the body in storing glucose in the liver, fat cells and muscle cells. If too much insulin remains in the blood, the adult or child can go into a state of insulin shock.
What is insulin shock?
Insulin shock is another name for severe hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood glucose levels in the blood. Low blood glucose is also called low blood sugar; the terms are interchangeable. If an episode of insulin shock lasts too long the person could die. Insulin shock can occur when if you take too much insulin, skip a meal, or vomit up a meal. The symptoms leading up to insulin shock include hunger, dizziness, fatigue, trembling, fainting, excessive sweating, nervousness, increased heart rate, headache, paleness of skin, slurred speech, irritability, blurred vision, convulsions and death could result. For many people, maintaining a normal or near normal blood glucose level is a delicate balancing act. Some people have to worry about preventing or treating insulin shock. Another worry is diabetic coma.
What is diabetic coma?
Diabetic coma results from a severe state of hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is a medical term for high blood glucose levels. If left untreated, a person with an extremely high glucose level in the blood can go into a diabetic coma. The symptoms leading up to diabetic coma include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, fast heartbeat, fruity odor of the breath, stomach pain, confusion, unresponsiveness, coma and death could result.
Lacking insulin, glucose cannot go into the cells for energy. Thus, insulin stays in the blood instead. Insulin staying in the blood can cause problems because the body’s cells starve for glucose. The body can react violently to conditions of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia which can lead to insulin shock and diabetic coma respectively.
Sadly, children are at risk for the same diseases and conditions as adults who suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Sooner or later, high blood glucose levels can create problems with the heart, eyes, nerves, blood vessels, and kidneys. High glucose levels in children also make them more prone to get infections or get seriously ill.
Adults and children need to be aware of their blood glucose levels. Parents and children should make diabetic health a priority. When the parents lead by example, the children should learn the importance of making healthy food choices. They should know when to test their blood glucose levels, and they should know when they need to rest and when it is safe to be more active. When a child is diabetic, the entire family needs to be supportive. Thus, making healthy food choices and living a healthy lifestyle is conducive to good diabetic health and healthy for everyone in the family.
Personal Experience as a nurse