What are special concerns for children and teens with diabetes?
|Simple things, like going to a birthday party, playing sports, or staying overnight with friends–need careful planning. Every day, children with diabetes may need to take insulin or oral medication. They also need to check their blood glucose several times during the day and remember to make correct food choices. For school-age children, these tasks can make them feel ‘different’ from their classmates. These tasks can be particularly bothersome for teens.|
For any child or teen with diabetes, learning to cope with the condition is a big job. Dealing with a chronic illness such as diabetes may cause emotional and behavioral challenges. Talking to a nurse educutor or psychologist may help a child or teen and his or her family learn to adjust to lifestyle changes needed to stay healthy.
What can families and others do?
Managing diabetes in children and adolescents is most effective when the entire family makes a team effort. Families can share concerns with physicians, diabetes educators, dietitians, and other health care providers to get their help in the day-to-day management of diabetes. Extended family members, teachers, school counsellors, coaches, after care and day care providers need to be educated in diabetes management and can provide information, support, guidance, and help with coping skills.
Diabetes is stressful for both the children and their families. Parents should be alert for signs of depression or eating disorders and seek appropriate treatment. While all parents should talk to their children about avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, this is particularly important for children with diabetes. Smoking and diabetes each increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and people with diabetes who smoke have a greatly increased risk of heart disease and circulatory problems. Binge drinking can increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and symptoms of hypoglycemia can be mistaken for those of intoxication and not properly treated.