An increasing number of children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which was previous considered an adult disease. Once the problem is diagnosed, making consistent changes can help your child develop healthier life-long habits. Here are three ways this disease can be managed in children.
Like adults with type 2 diabetes, children are often prescribed medication once they are diagnosed. Since there are limited medications available for children to take, many children receive insulin, but some may take a daily oral pill. Taking insulin can be more complicated, especially for children. When children are prescribed insulin, they will need to measure their blood glucose levels multiple times each day to ensure they are not taking too much or not enough insulin. Oral medications typically do not require frequent blood glucose monitoring, but you or your child will need to test at least a few times per day. Your doctor will recommend a blood glucose test, the A1C, at least once every few months to check blood glucose levels over time. Based on this information, your child's medications may be adjusted.
Your child will likely receive a referral to a nutritionist to help you and your child learn more about eating when diagnosed with diabetes. Generally, people with diabetes are discouraged from eating foods high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates. This sudden change in diet can be especially frustrating for children. Your nutritionist will likely want to know the different types of foods your child likes, so they can help you create new ways of making the same food or offer healthier substitutions. It is often easier to encourage your child to eat healthier if everyone in the family is eating the same way. For some families, especially when other people in the family have health problems or need to lose weight, the diagnosis of childhood type 2 diabetes can be a catalyst for change throughout the entire family.
3. Physical Activity
Exercise is almost as important as nutrition when trying to control type 2 diabetes. Since many children have little to no physical education in schools and often sit in front of the computer at home, it is imperative to find ways to motivate your child to be more active. You may need to figure out what motivates your child. For example, team sports or a bicycle might be more interesting to your child than simply walking around the neighborhood. It also helps if all family members consider joining the local YMCA or community center. If you have a limited income, they may offer a membership for free or at a reduced cost. Since these environments have a wide array of activities, it is easier for children and adults to find something they enjoy. Start by going a few times per week if your family has a busy lifestyle.
With the rise in childhood type 2 diabetes, there is also the concern of seeing more diabetes-related complications at a younger age. Many cases of childhood type 2 diabetes can be managed or eliminated with a healthier lifestyle. Talk to your family physician to help you manage your child's type 2 diabetes.