You have a teenager who spends all of their time in their room with video games or social media. They don't have an interest in being active and little motivation to do anything else. Before you write them off as just a difficult teenager, consider that they may be dealing with an early case of type 2 diabetes. A trip to your family practice doctor will confirm this, but here is what you need to know to help you communicate with your child.
The Nature of Diabetes
While not common in teens, diabetes is still on the rise in this age group. Lack of exercise and diet choices are a big factor as to whether a teen develops diabetes. The good news is that it can be reversed in the growing body of your child.
The pancreas produces insulin which unlocks the cells in the body to use the glucose (sugar) in the blood. With a high carbohydrate, sugary diet, the blood contains an excess of glucose. The pancreas puts out more insulin to process the glucose, but the cells eventually become resistant to absorbing more glucose. This leaves the glucose floating in the bloodstream.
To manage the excess glucose, fat cells form to pull the glucose from the blood and store it. Because of the high level of glucose in the blood, the sugar in the fat cells rarely gets used. The result is that the teen puts on weight and begins to show the classic signs of diabetes.
What To Watch For in Your Teen
While your teen may not respond to a 20-questions kind of discussion, do a little probing to find out if any of these symptoms are being experienced by your child:
- Frequent urination - Does your child often wake up at night to urinate? Do they often have to step out of class to go to the bathroom?
- Frequent thirst - Does your teen carry a water bottle with them constantly or buy a lot of sodas at school?
- Constant hunger - Does your teen graze on snacks all day? Do they crave sweets, salty items or food with high fat content?
- Extreme fatigue - Does your teen fall asleep in class or have trouble waking up in the morning after several hours of sleep? Do they lack the motivation to get up and do even the most basic things around the house?
- Increased irritability - Has your teen snapped at friends at school or family members at home? Do they feel edgy most of the time?
- Blurred vision - Does your teen complain of tired eyes or headaches? Do they have problems reading and try to avoid reading completely?
Individually, these can be the symptoms of many different problems. But if your teen experiences more than one of these, a diabetic checkup is in order.
Approaching Your Teen With a Diabetes Discussion
Your doctor can give you a lot of information on childhood diabetes. Talk with your teen about your concerns and give them the information to read. Direct them to websites with authoritative information on diabetes. As your teen learns about this disease, they will understand the relationship between it and why they just don't feel well.
Make sure they understand that it is reversible and that they can feel more energetic again. Recommend a trip to the doctor to get more information on how the teen can reverse this disease. Let your doctor discuss ways your teen can turn their health around. When your teen understands the disease and knows that they are responsible for reversing it, many will find the motivation to adopt new diet and exercise habits.
For more information, contact Valley Medical Care or a similar location.