South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday January 19, 2021
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January 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 7
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Cases of Childhood Diabetes Continue to Rise

It’s wise to be vigilant. Unfortunately, too many Americans have delayed medical treatments during the pandemic. Forgoing care is dangerous, especially while numerous medical conditions continue to rise. Of special concern is diabetes in children and teenagers.

When we think about childhood diabetes, we immediately think about type 1 not type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body can’t make insulin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of type 1 diabetes have increased especially in African American, Hispanic, and Asian communities by about 20 percent. Cases of type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with adults, have also grown significantly in children and teenagers.
 
With the rise of diabetes, it’s essential that children and teenagers visit their doctors when having signs or symptoms suggestive of the disease. The goal is to recognize the disease early for proper treatment and prevention of complications.
 
When diabetes is not recognized and treated, it can lead to kidney damage, impaired vision, heart disease, or stroke. Diabetes type 1 can lead to a serious complication known as diabetes ketoacidosis. It’s possible, but rare, for type 2 diabetes to lead to diabetes ketoacidosis.
 
The perception that type 2 diabetes occurs only in adults is erroneous. It is unfortunately a common disease in the pediatric population today.
 
Type 2 Diabetes—Signs and Causes
In many cases, symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be overlooked. You should watch for:
• Extreme thirst
• Frequent urination
• Increased appetite
• Unintended change in weight, particularly weight gain
• Feeling exhausted
• Dark patches of skin around your armpits and neck
 
Diabetes type 2 is partially genetic and is mostly attributed to obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise. As childhood obesity rates rise, so does the rate of type 2 diabetes. Extra weight, especially belly fat, can result in insulin resistance. When this occurs, the cells in your body cannot absorb glucose; in turn, levels of sugar build up in the blood and your body is unable to use insulin effectively.
 
To prevent type 2 diabetes, keep a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritiously, incorporate daily exercise and keep a normal weight. You should also:
• Drink water instead of soda or sugary drinks
• Eat vegetables and fruits
• Eat whole grain foods
• Avoid fried foods
• Limit processed foods, including fries, chips, baked goods, and processed meats
 
So many of us are not going to a gym because of COVID-19. Despite that, you can still exercise indoors. Take a Zoom dance class or turn on your favorite music and move; connect with a friend online and dance together or do daily exercise routines at home.
Medical Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes
Talk to your doctor about losing weight and eating a healthy diet, daily exercise, blood sugar monitoring, and the need for taking medication. Your doctor may suggest a nutritional consultation and will be able to advise you on which medications you’ll need to control your blood sugar levels.
 
Despite the pandemic, if you need to visit your doctor’s office know that most doctors are seeing fewer patients and spacing visits for safety. Social distancing is observed, and masks are worn. Call your doctor if you have any concern to see how you could be accommodated.
 
If you’re still unsure about meeting your doctor in person, you can schedule a telemedicine visit and still get good medical care. During your visit, let your doctor know if you have any of the above diabetes symptoms. A blood test will confirm if you have diabetes.
 
Early diagnosis of diabetes is key and provides you with the best treatment options.

Dr. Sheila Perez-Colon is a pediatric endocrinologist for Kidz Medical Services. She sees patients in Miami-Dade County.

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