SATURDAY, February 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Diabetes is never easy to manage, but managing type 1 diabetes can be an especially difficult challenge for teens.
The transition from childhood to adolescence can be difficult for both children and parents, according to the JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).
When boys and girls with type 1 diabetes enter puberty, they experience many changes, including increases in growth and appetite, which increases their need for insulin.
As children, eating was balanced at a ratio of one unit of insulin per 30 grams of carbohydrate, but now, according to the foundation, they need one unit of insulin for 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) also work against insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar, but sex hormones increase it. Stress hormones such as cortisol also increase blood sugar, and teenagers can experience high levels of stress.
The emotional and social aspects of puberty can also make treating type 1 diabetes difficult, according to experts. Controlling blood sugar can be more difficult when peer pressure and a wide range of activities seem more urgent.
Teens can get busy forgetting boluses / injections, blood glucose checks, necessary supplies, and more.
Children going through puberty need more insulin every day. It is good to speak to your doctor about sudden and unexpected spikes and work out a plan that the JDRF recommended in a press release.
School can also get more demanding, especially as you are coping with type 1 diabetes. Studies show that low, high, or large fluctuations in blood sugar impair the ability to concentrate.
Parents can take steps to help during this difficult time. A formal plan that schools develop to support children with medical needs called the 504 plan can allow students to postpone or cancel a test if their blood sugar is too high or too low.
Teenagers should check blood sugar levels before each test. But the last thing they want to do is feel different from everyone else or draw attention to their illness. It is therefore important to have the 504 discussions at the beginning of the year.
For people with type 1 diabetes who play sports, it means trying to keep track of their illness so they can focus on the game.
It helps to have a checklist:
- Make sure you have the supplies and glucose you need, a meter, and insulin. Ask the school’s exercise trainer who can administer glucagon.
- Have the sports equipment you need. Be reasonable about the rules and expectations, but treating students with diabetes differently than other players will not help in the long run.
- Check your blood sugar. On a stage or a sports field, in a pool or on a race track, people with type 1 diabetes do better when their blood sugar levels are within the target ranges.
- Speak when you need to take care of yourself. Find patterns that are a good starting point for any exercise and / or game.
Parents need to help children deal with their diabetes on their own, the JDRF added. Don’t float. Take small steps to help teens engage in activities independently.
For more information on type 1 diabetes, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.
SOURCE: JDRF, press release, February 19, 2021