This is how to spot the warning signs of diabetes in children

An estimated 31,500 children and young people have diabetes in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)An estimated 31,500 children and young people have diabetes in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)
An estimated 31,500 children and young people have diabetes in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)

Diabetes is a condition which typically affects adults, but the number of young people being treated for diabetes in the UK is on the rise.

There are an estimated 31,500 children and young people, under the age of 19, with diabetes in the UK, according to Diabetes UK.

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Around 95.1 per cent have type 1 diabetes, but a growing number are developing type 2, which is typically linked to poor diet and obesity.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes causes the level of glucose in the blood to become too high, prompting symptoms including excessive thirst, needing to urinate a lot and tiredness.

The condition can also increase the risk of problems with your eyes, heart and nerves, and may require a change in diet and medication to be taken.

It is caused when the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or because the body's cells don't react to insulin, and is normally a result of being overweight or inactive, or due to a family member having the condition.

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Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 and it is important to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible, or symptoms will get progressively worse.

Spotting the signs

Many young people may have diabetes without realising because symptoms don't necessarily make you feel unwell.

The NHS advise looking out for these symptoms to help spot the signs early:

urinating more than usual, particularly at nightfeeling thirsty all the timefeeling very tiredlosing weight without trying togenital itching, or repeatedly getting thrushcuts or wounds taking longer to healblurred vision

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How to reduce the risk of diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes, lifestyle changes can be made to help lower the risk of developing type 2.

Exercising and eating a healthy diet can help to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Photo: Shutterstock)

Keeping active and eating a healthy diet will help to manage your blood sugar levels, and control your weight.

Eating a wide range of fruit, vegetables and starchy foods, like pasta, is advised, as well as ensuring you eat three meals every day.

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Foods high in sugar, fat and salt should be kept to a minimum.

Regular physical exercise will help to lower your blood sugar levels, with the NHS recommending at least 2.5 hours of activity per week.

UK Chief Medical Officers' guidelines state physical exercise can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 40 per cent, with benefits including:

losing weight or maintain a healthy weightincreasing the amount of glucose used by the muscles for energy, potentially lowering blood glucose (sugar) levelshelping the body to use insulin more efficientlyimproving your diabetes managementstrengthening your bonesreducing stress levels and symptoms of depression and anxietyimproving your sleep

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