There are two major types of diabetes, but they don't have very exciting names.
They're called type 1 and type 2. Let's find out about type 2 diabetes
(say: dye-uh-BEE-tees), a health problem that affects kids and adults.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose
(say: GLOO-kose), a sugar that is the body's main source of fuel. Your body needs
glucose to keep running. Here's how it should work:
Insulin helps the glucose get into the body's cells.
Your body gets the energy it needs.
The pancreas is a
long, flat gland in your belly that helps your body digest food. It also makes insulin.
Insulin is kind of like a key that opens the doors to the cells of the body. It lets
the glucose in. Then the glucose can move out of the blood and into the cells.
But if someone has diabetes, the body either can't make insulin or the insulin
doesn't work in the body like it should. The glucose can't get into the cells normally,
so the blood sugar
level gets too high. Lots of sugar in the blood makes people sick if they don't
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes cause high blood sugar levels in different ways.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas
can't make insulin. The body can still get glucose from food. But the glucose can't
get into the cells, where it's needed. Glucose stays in the blood. This makes the
blood sugar level very high.
Type 2 diabetes is different. With type 2, the pancreas still makes insulin. But
the insulin doesn't do its job as well in the body. Glucose just hangs around and
builds up in the blood. The pancreas makes even more insulin to get glucose to go
into the cells, but eventually gets worn out from working so hard. As a result, the
blood sugar levels rise too high.
Most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight.
In the past, mainly overweight adults got type 2 diabetes. Today, more kids are being
diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, probably because more kids are overweight.
Experts think that the tendency to get it is probably passed down through families.
Kids with family members who have type 2 diabetes get diabetes more often. Kids older
than 10 are more likely to get type 2 diabetes than younger kids.
What Are the Signs of Type 2 Diabetes?
Some kids can have type 2 diabetes without knowing it. Some of the signs aren't
easy to spot and can take a long time to develop. And a lot of kids don't have any
symptoms at all.
But when a person first gets type 2 diabetes, he or she usually:
feels tired a lot because the body can't use sugar for energy
pees a lot because the body tries to get rid of the extra blood
sugar by passing it out of the body in the urine (pee)
drinks a lot to make up for all that peeing
The skin can look different
in some kids with type 2 diabetes. They may notice a dark ring around their necks
that doesn't wash off. They may also see thick, dark, velvety skin under the arms,
between the legs, between fingers and toes, or on elbows and knees. This skin darkening
can lighten over time with if someone's insulin resistance gets better.
How Is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?
How do you find out whether you have diabetes? Doctors can say for sure if a person
has diabetes by testing blood samples for glucose. Even if a kid doesn't have any
symptoms of type 2 diabetes, doctors may use blood tests to check for it in kids who
are more likely to get it — like those who are overweight.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you may visit a doctor called a pediatric
endocrinologist (say: pee-dee-AH-trik en-duh-krih-NOL-eh-jist). A pediatric
endocrinologist helps kids with diabetes, growth problems, and more.
How Is Type 2 Diabetes Treated?
Kids with type 2 diabetes have to pay a little more attention to what they're eating
and doing than kids without diabetes. They may need to:
Eat a healthy diet, as determined by the care team.
Get regular physical activity to achieve a healthy weight and allow insulin to
work more effectively.
shots or medicines that help insulin work better in their bodies.
Check their blood sugar levels.
Get treatment for other health problems that can happen more often in people with
type 2 diabetes, like high blood
pressure or problems with the levels of fats
in their blood.
Have regular checkups with doctors and other people on their diabetes health care
team so they can stay healthy and get treatment for any diabetes problems.
They might have to eat smaller amounts of foods than they had been and less salt
or fat, too. The good news is that kids who eat healthy foods, stay active, and get
to a good weight might be able to get their blood sugar levels into a healthier range.
If that happens, their doctors may decide they don't have to take medicine for diabetes
What Else Should I Know?
Even though kids with diabetes have to do some special things, diabetes doesn't
keep them from doing the stuff they love. They can still play sports, go out with
their friends, and go on trips.
So if you have a friend with diabetes, let him or her know you can deal with it.
Being friends is all about having fun together, not having a perfect blood sugar level!