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What should a child or teen with diabetes do every day?

Juvenile diabetes is a condition that usually occurs in children and young adults, and causes your body to make little or no insulin. Also called type 1 diabetes. To control diabetes and prevent complications, blood glucose levels must be as close to a "normal" range as safely possible. Families should work with a health care provider to help set a child's or teen's targets for blood glucose levels. The provider can help develop a personal diabetes plan for the child and discuss ways to manage hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).

A Personal Diabetes Plan
A personal diabetes plan ensures that a daily schedule is in place to keep a child's diabetes under control. A health care provider develops this plan in partnership with a child or teen and his or her family. The plan shows the child or teen how to follow a healthy meal plan, get regular physical activity, check blood glucose levels, and take insulin or oral medication as prescribed.

Follow a Healthy Meal Plan. A child or teen needs to follow a meal plan developed by a physician, diabetes educator, or a registered dietitian. A meal plan outlines proper nutrition for growth. A meal plan also helps keep blood glucose levels in the target range. Children or adolescents and their families can learn how different types of food - especially carbohydrates such as breads, pasta, and rice - can affect blood glucose levels. Portion size, the right amount of calories for the child's age, and ideas for healthy food choices at meal and snack time also should be discussed. Family support for following the meal plan and setting up regular meal times is a key to success, especially if the child or teen is taking insulin.

Get Regular Physical Activity. A child or teen with diabetes needs regular physical activity. Exercise helps to lower blood glucose levels, especially in children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes. Exercise is also a good way to help children control their weight. If possible, a child or teen should check blood glucose levels before beginning a game or sport. A child or teen should not exercise if blood glucose levels are too low.

Check blood glucose levels regularly. A child or teen should check blood glucose levels regularly with a blood glucose meter, preferably a meter with a built-in memory. A health care professional can teach a child how to use a blood glucose meter properly and how often to use it. Blood glucose meter results show if blood glucose levels are in the target range, too high, or too low. A child should keep a journal or other records of blood glucose results to discuss with his or her health care provider. This information helps the provider make any needed changes to the child's or teen's personal diabetes plan.

Take all diabetes medication as prescribed. A child or teen should take all diabetes medication as prescribed. Parents, caregivers, school nurses, and others can help a child or teen learn how to take medications properly. For type 1 diabetes, a child or teen takes insulin shots at regular times each day. Some children and teens use an insulin pump, which delivers insulin. Some children or teens with type 2 diabetes need oral medication or insulin shots or both. In any case, all medication should be balanced with food and activity every day.

Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia
Keeping blood glucose levels within the target range is the goal of diabetes control. However, extremes in blood glucose levels can occur for several reasons. The parent or caregiver should talk with a health care provider about how to deal with these potential problems related to a child's or teen's diabetes.

Blood glucose levels can sometimes drop too low - a condition called hypoglycemia. Taking too much diabetes medicine, missing a meal or snack, or exercising too much may cause hypoglycemia. A child or teen can become nervous, shaky, and confused. When blood glucose levels fall very low, the person can lose consciousness or develop seizures. Talk to the child's or teen's health care provider about how to deal with this serious but manageable condition.

Blood glucose levels can sometimes rise too high - a condition known as hyperglycemia. Forgetting to take medicines on time, eating too much, and getting too little exercise may cause hyperglycemia. Being ill also can raise blood glucose levels. Over time, hyperglycemia can lead to serious health problems and cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels, gums, and teeth.

More information on diabetes mellitus

What is diabetes mellitus? - Diabetes mellitus is a a condition characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from the body's inability to use blood glucose for energy. Diabetes mellitus can result in coma. Over time, complications can include nerve injury, blindness, kidney failure, and premature atherosclerosis with all of its complications.
What causes diabetes mellitus? - Diabetes mellitus is a disorder caused by insufficient production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas, or insensitivity of cells to the effects of insulin. Insulin is responsible for the absorption of glucose into cells for their energy needs and into the liver and fat cells for storage.
What is insulin? - Insulin is a hormone that is produced by specialized cells (beta cells) of the pancreas. In addition to helping glucose enter the cells, insulin is also important in tightly regulating the level of glucose in the blood.
What types of diabetes mellitus are there? - There are four main types of diabetes mellitus. They are type 1 diabetes mellitus, type 2 diabetes mellitus, type 3, and Gestational diabetes mellitus (type 4).
What is type 1 diabetes? - Formerly known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition in which the pancreas stops making insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults.
What is type 2 diabetes? - Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes mellitus. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but either do not make enough insulin or their bodies do not use the insulin they make. Type 2, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, typically occurs after the age of 40 years.
What're signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus? - Type 2 diabetes almost always has a slow onset (often years). Early symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are often polyuria (frequent urination) and polydipsia (increased thirst, and consequent increased fluid intake).
What is diabetes insipidus? - Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a disease characterized by excretion of large amounts of severely diluted urine, which cannot be reduced when fluid intake is reduced.
What is diabetic coma? - Diabetic coma is a medical emergency in which a person with diabetes is unconscious because the blood glucose level is too low or too high. Patients with diabetes mellitus type 1 are especially prone to this condition.
What are the complications of diabetes mellitus? - Many people with diabetes mellitus eventually develop complications. A very common short-term complication of diabetes mellitus is hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood sugar levels).
How to diagnose diabetes mellitus? - The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is usually prompted by recent symptoms of excessive urination (polyuria) and excessive thirst (polydipsia), often accompanied by weight loss. The diagnosis of other types of diabetes is made in many other ways.
Diagnosis protocol for diabetes - People over age 45 should be tested for diabetes. If the first blood glucose test is normal, they should be re-tested every three years. A diagnosis of diabetes is made when any three of these tests is positive, followed by a second positive test on a different day.
What is the treatment for diabetes? - Diabetes is a chronic disease with no cure, but it can almost always be managed effectively. Nowadays, the goal for diabetics is to avoid or minimize chronic diabetic complications, as well as to avoid acute problems of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
What type of diabetes diet is suggested? - For some people with diabetes mellitus, a healthy diet and weight loss is enough to keep glucose levels in the blood normal.
What medications are available for diabetes? - Oral diabetes medicines, or oral hypoglycemics, can lower blood glucose in people who have diabetes, but are able to make some insulin. Six FDA-approved oral diabetes medications are now on the market.
How to prevent diabetes? - Diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful. Studies show that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight.
What should a child diabetes do every day? - To control diabetes and prevent complications, blood glucose levels must be as close to a "normal" range as safely possible. Families should work with a health care provider to help set a child's or teen's targets for blood glucose levels.
Smoking and diabetes - There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that smoking is an independent risk factor for diabetes and that among people with diabetes, smoking aggravates the risk of serious disease and premature death.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005