Look For These Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes:

Many of the signs of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar. In both, there is too much glucose in the blood and not enough in the cells of your body. High glucose levels in Type I are due to a lack of insulin because the insulin producing cells have been destroyed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body's cells become resistant to insulin that is being produced. Either way, your cells aren't getting the glucose that they need, and your body lets you know by giving you these signs and symptoms.

Frequent trips to the bathroom:

Are you visiting the bathroom much more lately? Does it seem like you urinate all day long? Urination becomes more frequent when there is too much glucose in the blood. If insulin is nonexistent or ineffective, the kidneys can't filter glucose back to the blood. They become overwhelmed and try to draw extra water out of the blood to dilute the glucose. This keeps your bladder full and it keeps you running to the bathroom.

Unquenchable Thirst:

If it feels like you can't get enough water and you're drinking much more than usual, it could be a sign of diabetes, especially if it seems to go hand in hand with frequent urination. If your body is pulling extra water out of your blood and you're running to the bathroom more, you will become dehydrated and feel the need to drink more to replace the water that you are losing.

Losing Weight Without Trying:

This symptom is more noticeable with Type 1 diabetes. In Type 1, the pancreas stops making insulin, possibly due to a viral attack on pancreas cells or because an autoimmune response makes the body attack the insulin producing cells. The body desperately looks for an energy source because the cells aren't getting glucose. It starts to break down muscle tissue and fat for energy. Type 2 happens gradually with increasing insulin resistance so weight loss is not as noticeable.

Weakness and Fatigue:

It's that bad boy glucose again. Glucose from the food we eat travels into the bloodstream where insulin is supposed to help it transition into the cells of our body. The cells use it to produce the energy we need to live. When the insulin isn't there or if the cells don't react to it anymore, then the glucose stays outside the cells in the bloodstream. The cells become energy starved and you feel tired and run down.

Tingling or Numbness in Your Hands, Legs or Feet:

This symptom is called neuropathy. It occurs gradually over time as consistently high glucose in the blood damages the nervous system, particularly in the extremities. Type 2 diabetes is a gradual onset, and people are often not aware that they have it. Therefore, blood sugar might have been high for more than a few years before a diagnosis is made. Nerve damage can creep up without our knowledge. Neuropathy can very often improve when tighter blood glucose control is achieved.

Other Signs and Symptoms That Can Occur:

Blurred vision, skin that is dry or itchy, frequent infections or cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal are also signs that something is amiss. Again, when these signs are associated with diabetes, they are the result of high glucose levels in the body. If you notice any of the above signs, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to tell you if you have reason to be concerned about a diagnosis of diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes in Kids From Heather M. Ross - Updated July 29, 2008 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board

Finding out that your child has been diagnosed with diabetes can be very frightening and overwhelming. Children and their families have to go through a tremendous learning experience to help the child manage his or her diabetes. But kids are adaptable and kids with diabetes can have very normal childhoods with preparation and understanding.

(LifeWire) - Type 2 diabetes currently accounts for up to 50% of all new cases of diabetes in kids. This is a significant increase from even a decade ago, when the majority of cases for pediatric diabetes were type 1 diabetes.

People who have type 2 diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or do not use insulin effectively. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps glucose (sugar) move from the bloodstream to the cells, where it is used as an energy source. If sugar does not get into the cells, they lack the fuel needed for the body to function. Over time, excess sugar in the blood can damage the body's organs. Reducing insulin resistance combats type 2 diabetes by helping the body to better metabolize sugar.

One of the main causes of type 2 diabetes is obesity, which contributes to both insulin resistance and cardiovascular problems. Since the 1970s, the rate of obesity in children has more than doubled. Many attribute this to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, as well as poor nutritional habits.

Often diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can help children manage type 2 diabetes or prevent it from developing, but sometimes medications may be needed as well.

The Growing Epidemic

One significant study of adolescents in a large Midwestern city found that the rate of type 2 diabetes increased 10-fold from 1982 to 1994, representing 33% of all adolescent cases of diabetes. Nationally, it is estimated that 29% of adolescent patients with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, resulting in an estimated 2.8 million adolescents in the U.S. with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Given the rise of childhood obesity, it is estimated that more than one third of all children who were born in 2000 will eventually develop diabetes, either during childhood or after adolescence.

With only a minority of the people who ultimately develop type 2 diabetes being diagnosed before the age of 20, the rise in childhood type 2 diabetes is expected to be accompanied by a similar increase in the number of adults who develop type 2 diabetes.

Some ethnic groups are more prone to diabetes. For example, 50% of Hispanics in the U.S. are projected to develop childhood or adult diabetes. This rise in diabetes also leads to a reduction in projected lifespan -- as much as 22 years for some individuals.

Goals of Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Managing type 2 diabetes in children involves several goals. These goals are: to keep blood sugar levels normal; to improve insulin sensitivity, which helps control blood sugar levels; to treat cardiovascular issues and fatty liver disease; and to prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as nephropathy (kidney disorder), neuropathy (nerve damage, especially to the feet and legs) and retinopathy (eye disease).

Underlying all of these goals is the essential challenge to instill lifestyle changes to combat obesity, which will help people achieve all the other treatment goals for type 2 diabetes.

Exercise and Diet for Children and Adolescents

For children younger than 2 years old, high dietary fat intake is essential to optimize development of the nervous system. However, most children older than 2 years of age should adhere to a lower-fat diet in keeping with the recommendations outlined in the USDA's "My Pyramid for Kids," which is specifically geared for children and adolescents who are 6 to 11 years old.

Dietary recommendations for children with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes include consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, eating fewer high-fat and processed foods, and eliminating sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, entirely from the diet.

In addition to adopting healthy eating habits, children and adolescents should make a habit of engaging in physical activity for at least 60 minutes daily, whether by getting involved in organized sports or informal activities. Exercise is known to reduce insulin resistance in children, even if children remain overweight.

The National Institutes of Health recommends limiting television and video game viewing to no more than one hour per day. Instead of sedentary entertainment, experts recommend active playing and/or participation in organized sports, dance or other activities.

Special Challenges for Children and Families

It can be socially and emotionally challenging for a child or adolescent who is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. He or she may feel "singled out" among family members and peers. The most successful approach is often for the entire family to be supportive by adopting healthy diet and exercise practices together, rather than establishing an alternate diabetic diet and exercise routine for the diabetic family member alone.

This concept can be carried out into the classroom, extracurricular activities and camp settings as well. Parents of diabetic and prediabetic children can work with teachers and other classroom parents to suggest healthy snacks for classroom celebrations, including birthdays. Not only will this help the diabetic and prediabetic children not to feel singled out, but all of the children will benefit from eating healthy nutritious snacks.

Medications and Other Treatment Considerations for Children and Adolescents

The first, and most important factor in combating diabetes for children is by making lifestyle modifications with diet and exercise. Ideally, a diabetes healthcare team for children and adolescents will include nutritionists and activity leaders to help patients and families incorporate healthy changes into their lives.

Even if no diabetic symptoms, such as increased thirst or urination are present, healthcare providers may prescribe antidiabetic medications if lifestyle changes are not successful in modifying the risks involved with diabetes.

Children and adolescents who have symptoms of diabetes might be started on medications right away, concurrent with diet and exercise changes. Healthcare providers may also prescribe oral medications such as Glucophage (metformin) to some patients with prediabetes to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. Glucophage helps lower blood sugar levels.

In formulating treatment plans, healthcare providers may consider a wide range of medications, including insulin and oral agents. At this time, only insulin and Glucophage are approved by the FDA for pediatric use. However, pediatric diabetologists may use other antidiabetic medications on an individual basis.

Why Is Exercise Beneficial for Children With Type 2 Diabetes?

During physical activity, glucose moves more efficiently from the bloodstream into the muscles, reducing blood sugar levels. This effect lasts from 24 to 48 hours. Staying active nearly every day can make a big contribution to efforts by kids to control their blood sugar levels.

Since excess body fat can make insulin less effective in moving sugar out of the blood, being overweight can make diabetes worse. Exercise can help control weight, although dietary changes are necessary, too.

Exercise also helps kids become more coordinated, self-confident and physically capable, which in turn can help them develop a lifelong love of activities and sports. A commitment to being active can help them maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the coming years.

How Much Exercise Is Recommended for Children With Type 2 Diabetes?

According to the federal government's National Diabetes Education Program, kids with type 2 diabetes should get a total of 60 minutes of daily activity. This guideline does not mean 60 minutes all at once; this can be spread across a 20-minute active recess and a 40-minute gym class, or recess plus an after-school game of basketball totaling 60 minutes, or an hour-long soccer practice.

How Can You Help a Diabetic Child Become More Active?

By limiting "screen time" spent watching TV, playing video games or sitting at the computer. Limiting this factor has been shown to make kids more physically active.
By doing physical activities as a group, such as riding bikes, taking hikes, playing catch, playing basketball or skating. These exercise options are virtually endless. Not only does group activity contribute to a child's daily "dose" of exercise, but adults will be modeling healthy behaviors as well.
By helping find other options if a child is not interested in team sports. For example, participation in dance classes, martial arts, gymnastics, running, weight training, aerobic exercise videos, kayaking, golfing, tennis, Frisbee or other games.
By encouraging the child to be more active in everyday life. For example, park at the farthest spot from the store for a longer walk, take the dog for a walk, help with chores, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk or ride bikes on short errands.
By playing video games that help keep kids active. A very popular game called Dance Dance Revolution provides cues on the TV screen to prompt players to stomp to the dance moves onto a large floor mat.
By helping a child who has been inactive for a long time or who is already overweight, by introducing exercise a little at a time to avoid feelings of discouragement or embarrassment, or feelings that the exercise is "too hard" or "no fun."

What Precautions Should Children With Diabetes Take Before Exercising?

It is very important to check with the child's doctor before making significant changes in activity levels. Depending on the child's disease status and other factors, blood sugar levels may need to checked before and/or after exercise.The child will need to learn to recognize the signs of low blood sugar while being active, and should always bring appropriate snacks and water to stay well hydrated.

The child should wear a diabetes bracelet or other medical identification. Physical education teachers, coaches, and parents who supervise activities should be made aware of the child's condition, but don't let the need for supervision prevent a child with diabetes from becoming more active and healthier every day.

LifeWire, a part of The New York Times Company, provides original and syndicated online lifestyle content. Heather M. Ross, MS, APRN, NP, is an adult nurse practitioner specializing in cardiovascular care. She is a widely published author and lecturer in the fields of cardiac electrophysiology and heart failure. Ms. Ross lives in Paradise Valley, Ariz.



Back to School Diabetes Check ListKeeping Your Child Safe in School
From Debra Manzella, R.N.

Getting children ready for the first day of school is not always the easiest thing to do. If your child has diabetes, it can become even more complicated. Communication is the most important element in making school a safe place to be. Most school systems have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a 504 Plan (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) or other protocol in place, for children with special needs.

Many schools with these kinds of protocols also offer an opportunity for parents and staff to meet to discuss the needs of the child for the upcoming year. This is a great opportunity for parents to educate all the people who will come in contact with the child during the school day. If your school system does not have an education plan for special needs kids, then asking for this kind of meeting from the school administrators is an appropriate plan of action. Read More: