Type 2 diabetes symptoms in children can go unnoticed

Frequent urination, increased thirst and weight loss are among the signs of Type 2 diabetes

One of the frustrating things about parenting is knowing which signs and symptoms to worry about and which are part of normal childhood.

Diabetes during childhood, including Type 2 diabetes, can have that same challenge. An estimated 30 million people in the United States have some form of diabetes, and 1 in 4 are undiagnosed.

While you may not see some Type 2 diabetes symptoms until adulthood, Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., Director and pediatric endocrinologist with the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute, says there are common signs.

“The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes may look like other conditions or health problems,” Dr. Wintergerst said. “But most frequently, those with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes may experience dry mouth, excessive thirst and urination, and blurry vision. They may also demonstrate some weight loss without any effort to lose weight.”

In advanced disease, cuts and bruises may be slow to heal and a child may feel tingling, pain or numbness in the hands and feet, according to the American Diabetes Association.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute

Combining specialists from Norton Children’s and the University of Louisville, the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute works to provide the best possible care for your child.

Previously known as adult onset diabetes, adults and children with Type 2 diabetes do not use insulin properly due to the body developing insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose in the blood enter the body’s cells, where it is either used immediately for energy or stored for later use. Without the ability for the body to use a proper amount of insulin, the blood glucose builds up in the bloodstream. This causes many of the symptoms associated with diabetes, and, over time, causes damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Having a child with diabetes may seem overwhelming at times, especially if they are used to a specific lifestyle, but Dr. Wintergerst added that “it’s crucial to treat it at a young age.” Over time, people with untreated diabetes can develop heart, vision, nerve, and kidney problems, among other health complications.

“If you think your child may be experiencing symptoms related to Type 2 diabetes, and you are at increased risk, it is important to see a doctor right away,” Dr. Wintergerst said.