Type 2 Diabetes in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Type 2 diabetes develops when your child's body can't make enough insulin or can't use insulin very well.

Insulin is a hormone. It helps the body's cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra sugar in muscle, fat, and liver cells. Without insulin, the sugar can't get into the cells to do its work. It stays in the blood instead. This can cause high blood sugar levels. A person has diabetes when the blood sugar stays too high too much of the time. Over time, diabetes can lead to diseases of the heart, blood vessels, nerves, kidneys, and eyes.

In the past, doctors believed that type 2 diabetes was an adult disease and that type 1 diabetes was a children's disease. Now, more and more children are getting type 2 diabetes. Children who are overweight, are not very active, or have family members with diabetes have a higher chance of getting it.

Treatment for type 2 diabetes focuses on diet and exercise. It may also include medicines. The goal is to keep blood sugar at a target level. This will help your child feel better and have more energy. It can also prevent or delay damage to the eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves. If you work closely with your child's doctor, you can make a treatment plan that fits your child's needs.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow your child's treatment plan. Your child needs to:
    • Eat a good diet that spreads carbohydrate throughout the day. Carbohydrate is the body's main source of fuel. It affects blood sugar more than any other nutrient. Carbohydrate is in fruits, vegetables, milk, and yogurt. It also is in breads, cereals, and sugary foods such as candy and cakes.
    • Encourage your child to get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Your child may like to take a walk with you, ride a bike, or play sports.
    • Take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
    • Check and write down blood sugar levels as often as your doctor tells you to. If your child is too young to do this, you will need to do it.
  • Follow instructions to treat high blood sugar. The symptoms of high blood sugar include:
    • A dry mouth and increased thirst.
    • Warm, dry skin.
  • Follow instructions to treat low blood sugar. The symptoms of low blood sugar include:
    • Sweating.
    • Shakiness and weakness.
    • Dizziness.
    • A fast heartbeat.
    • Confusion.
  • Learn what to do when your child is sick.
  • Join a support group for parents of children with diabetes. Most areas have local groups.
  • Have your child wear medical alert jewellery that lists diabetes and his or her allergies.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if your child:

  • Has passed out (lost consciousness), or has suddenly become very sleepy or confused. (Your child may have very low blood sugar.)
  • Has symptoms of high blood sugar, such as:
    • Blurred vision.
    • Trouble staying awake or being woken up.
    • Fast, deep breathing.
    • Breath that smells fruity.
    • Belly pain, not feeling hungry, and vomiting.
    • Feeling confused.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if your child:

  • Is sick and has blood sugar that cannot be controlled.
  • Has been vomiting or has diarrhea for more than 6 hours.
  • Has blood sugar that stays higher than the level your doctor has set for your child.
  • Has symptoms of low blood sugar, such as:
    • Sweating.
    • Feeling nervous, shaky, and weak.
    • Extreme hunger and slight nausea.
    • Dizziness and a headache.
    • Blurred vision.
    • Confusion.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child:

  • Has trouble knowing when his or her blood sugar is low.
  • Has trouble keeping his or her blood sugar in the target range.
  • Often has problems controlling his or her blood sugar.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 23, 2016