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A Driving Force in Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

The endocrinology team at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s is deeply committed to treating and managing type 2 diabetes in children and teens. Our expert endocrinologists work collaboratively to offer the latest treatments and therapies while also ensuring your family feels ready for daily management of the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the body can't make enough insulin or use it correctly. This causes a person’s blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal, which is also called hyperglycemia. When blood sugar levels are too high over a long period of time, it can cause problems for the body, including kidney, heart and eye issues.

Although there are different types of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is the most common. The cause of the disease is unclear, but it can run in families and include other risk factors:

  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Being African American, Hispanic American or American Indian
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • High triglycerides
  • Being female

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes symptoms are not always clear. Sometimes, a patient may not show any diabetes symptoms, and other times, the symptoms may evolve slowly. They can also be confused with other conditions.

Some of the more common signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Frequent bladder infections
  • Skin infections and wounds that don’t heal easily
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Tingling or loss of feeling in hands or feet
  • Yeast infections

If your child is experiencing any of these type 2 diabetes symptoms, it is important to see a physician to be tested. Although a primary care physician can perform the test, it is also a good idea to have the diagnosis confirmed by a pediatric endocrinologist. Type 2 diabetes can be confused with type 1 diabetes and other rarer forms of the disease, and the treatments for these conditions are much different. An endocrinology specialist can ensure your child is properly diagnosed and the appropriate type 2 diabetes treatment plan is started.

Most children who develop type 2 diabetes are diagnosed during puberty, although the disease can emerge any time during childhood. The treatment for type 2 diabetes is different for children than for adults, which is another reason to work with a team of pediatric endocrinologists that specialize in treating childhood diabetes.

What You Can Expect

At UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s, we take a multifaceted approach to treating type 2 diabetes in children. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric endocrinologists along with specially trained nurses, social workers, pediatric psychologists, nutritionists and exercise physiologists work to holistically manage your child’s care.

First, we stabilize the disease, which may involve using medication. Unfortunately, there are not many type 2 diabetes medications approved for children. One is Metformin, which is typically the drug children with type 2 diabetes are started on. Unfortunately, studies have shown that children lose blood sugar control somewhat quickly on this medication and must be switched to insulin. We work closely with you and your child to determine the right type 2 diabetes medication and adjust the dosage and type as necessary.

Along with medication, we also teach you and your child about the effect healthy eating and regular exercise can have on blood sugar control. In some cases, small but significant lifestyle changes can cause pediatric diabetes to go dormant. For example, increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables while limiting sugary and fatty foods can have an impact as can regular exercise like walking, swimming and playing outside. It is critical a child or teen and their family maintain these healthy choices to prevent diabetes from relapsing. Our nutritionists can help you and your child develop the ideal diet and exercise plan, which is both effective and manageable.

Our nurse educators will make certain you and your child know how to administer type 2 diabetes medication, count carbohydrates and monitor blood sugar levels to manage the disease over time. Our social workers and psychologists will help you and your child navigate any worries or concerns about the diagnosis and what it means for your family.

Many times, there are other medical conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea, which can occur with type 2 diabetes. Our team of endocrinologists collaborates with our colleagues across UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital to treat these conditions. For example, we partner with pediatric nephrologists to treat your child’s high blood pressure and work with pulmonologists to address sleep apnea.

Access to Groundbreaking Clinical Trials and Support Tools

With the steep rise in the number of children affected by type 2 diabetes, there is a growing demand for new therapies. The endocrinologists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s are leading several clinical trials to expand the type 2 drug medications for children who are affected. We’re proud to offer our patients access to those trials, as well as the latest therapies that emerge from them.

We also offer hands-on tools for both patients and their families to help combat the disease, including our insulin dose calculator. With this tool, nurses can help patients answer questions regarding how many carbs they can eat and what are normal blood sugar levels. Nurses can also share the proper dosage of insulin that should be administered for each patient, further decreasing insulin dosage errors.

Convenient Care and Round-the-Clock Access

We make care as convenient as possible. Since we have multiple locations throughout the community, you can access our endocrinology team without traveling far from home. You can also contact us between visits. Our diabetes doctors are available to answer questions during the day, and our endocrinology after-hours line is ready to help you and your child if there are problems in the middle of the night.