Type 2 diabetes in children may develop gradually. Some children who have type 2 diabetes have no signs or symptoms. Others experience:
- Increased thirst and urination. As excess sugar builds up in your child's bloodstream, fluid is pulled from the tissues. This may leave your child thirsty. As a result, your child may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
- Increased hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your child's cells, your child's muscles and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers hunger.
- Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, your child may lose weight. Without the energy that sugar supplies to your cells, muscle tissues and fat stores simply shrink.
- Fatigue. If your child's cells are deprived of sugar, he or she may become tired and irritable.
- Blurred vision. If your child's blood sugar is too high, fluid may be pulled from the lenses of your child's eyes. This may affect your child's ability to focus clearly.
- Slow-healing sores or frequent infections. Type 2 diabetes affects your child's ability to heal and resist infections.
- Areas of darkened skin. Areas of darkened skin (acanthosis nigricans) may be a sign of insulin resistance. These dark patches often occur in the armpits or neck.
When to see a doctor
See your child's doctor if your child is at high risk of type 2 diabetes. To diagnose type 2 diabetes before it does serious damage, diabetes screening is recommended for all children and adolescents at high risk, even if they have no signs or symptoms of the condition. Your child may be at high risk if he or she:
- Has a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th percentile
- Has a sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin with type 2 diabetes
- Is black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander, as these racial groups have a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes
- Has signs of insulin resistance, such as darkened skin on the neck or armpits
Talk to your child's doctor if you're concerned about diabetes or if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of type 2 diabetes — increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, or frequent infections.