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Endocrinology & Diabetes

Childhood Diabetes & Thyroid Disorder Treatment

A pediatric endocrinologist treats children with growth, puberty, diabetes or other hormone and gland disorders. The most common problems pediatric endocrinologists treat are obesity, diabetes, growth problems, early or delayed puberty, enlarged thyroid gland, issues with the pituitary or adrenal glands, ovarian and testicular dysfunction, and low blood sugar. Our endocrinology department is knowledgeable in all of these conditions and can help your child manage or recover from the issue so they can live a better, healthier life.

Childhood Diabetes

One of the hormones that require endocrinologists' attention is insulin. This hormone moves food energy from the blood into muscle, fat and liver cells. When your child does not have enough insulin or becomes resistant to it, they can develop diabetes. This disease requires lifelong management by your family, your child and your doctors. At East Tennessee Children's Hospital, we have a diabetes education team that includes dietitians, nurse educators and social workers to assist patients with their ongoing diabetes care.

Clayton's Story

Clayton AlshieClayton Ailshie has been living with Juvenile Diabetes since the age of 5, but with help from the doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital, Clayton has been able to live an active, fun life.

Learn more about Clayton

Three illustrated hot air balloons in the clouds

The most common symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability or unusual behavior
  • Blurred vision
  • Yeast infection

A diabetes diagnosis may seem overwhelming. Your child's endocrinologist can create a plan to manage diabetes that works best for your child's lifestyle.

The diabetes management plan may include:

  • Insulin pumps or injections
  • Continuous glucose monitors
  • Changes in diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Blood sugar monitoring

Un-monitored diabetes can be very dangerous, but with help from our team your child can learn how to manage their condition and prevent serious complications.

Pediatric Thyroid Problems

The thyroid gland is located in your neck. It affects your metabolism. A pediatric endocrinologist may discover that your child's thyroid is producing too little thyroid hormone. This condition is called hypothyroidism.

In newborns, hypothyroidism's symptoms are:

  • Jaundice
  • Hoarse cry
  • Poor appetite
  • Constipation
  • Slow bone growth

In children and adolescents, hypothyroidism's symptoms are:

  • Slow growth
  • Delayed puberty
  • Slow speech
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin
  • Slow pulse

Your doctor will complete a blood test on your child to determine if they have hypothyroidism. Without treatment, hypothyroidism can result in intellectual disability and heart failure. Thankfully, the major complications can be prevented with treatment.

When your child's thyroid produces too many hormones, they may develop hyperthyroidism, or Graves' disease. In hyperthyroidism the metabolism becomes overreactive, which may result in:

  • Small birth weight
  • Poor weight gain
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nervousness

Your doctor will measure the amount of thyroid hormone in your child's bloodstream to determine if your child has hyperthyroidism. Treatments include medication to block the production of thyroid hormones and decrease heart rate.

We Are Here to Help

These conditions can be hard on children, but the sooner they start receiving treatment the faster they will learn to manage their health issues and ease their burden. We treat children with these conditions every day and have seen firsthand the tremendous difference quality medical care can make in child’s life.

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