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Patient education: My child has diabetes: How will we manage? (The Basics)

Patient education: My child has diabetes: How will we manage? (The Basics)

What is diabetes? — Diabetes is a disorder that disrupts the way a person's body uses sugar. This causes sugar to build up in the blood. Diabetes is also called "diabetes mellitus."

There are 2 types of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes make little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use sugar. People with type 2 diabetes sometimes also make too little insulin, but more often the problem is that their body doesn't respond to insulin.

Most children with diabetes have "type 1 diabetes." But some children, especially teenagers who are overweight, have "type 2 diabetes." This article is about type 1 diabetes.

Who will take care of my child's diabetes? — Different people will help take care of your child's diabetes. Your child's diabetes team will probably include a doctor, diabetes nurse, dietitian (food expert), and sometimes a mental health counselor and a pharmacist. Your child will see these people on a regular basis.

The diabetes team will teach you how to take care of your child's diabetes at home. As your child grows older, they should learn more and more about how to take care of their diabetes.

At school, the school nurse and other staff will help take care of your child's diabetes.

Will my child need to take medicine? — Yes. Children with type 1 diabetes need to take a medicine called insulin every day. Insulin works to lower a person's blood sugar level.

Insulin usually comes in the form of a shot. Your child can also get insulin from an "insulin pump." An insulin pump is a device that slowly delivers insulin to the body. The insulin goes from the pump, through a thin tube, and into the body through a tiny needle put under the skin.

There are different types of insulin. Your child will need several insulin doses each day. The diabetes team will:

Teach you about the different types of insulin and when to use them

Show you how to give your child an insulin shot or use an insulin pump

Teach you how to choose your child's insulin dose – An insulin dose depends on different factors, such as what your child eats and how active they are.

Will my child need tests? — Yes. You will need to check your child's blood sugar level 4 or more times each day. To do this, you will use a device called a "blood glucose meter." Your child's doctor or nurse will show you how to use your child's blood glucose meter.

Your child's doctor or nurse will also do a blood test called an "A1C" on a regular basis. This test shows what your child's average blood sugar level has been over the past 2 to 3 months.

Your child's doctor or nurse will look at the daily blood sugar levels and the A1C result to know:

How well-controlled your child's diabetes is

If your child's treatment plan needs to be changed

Do I have to change my child's diet? — You might need to plan what and how much your child eats, and when your child eats. It's important to know what, how much, and when your child eats to make sure that they get the right amount of insulin.

The diabetes team will work with you to:

Help you plan healthy meals and snacks for your child

Help you make a schedule for meals and snacks

Teach you how to choose the correct insulin dose based on what your child eats and how much exercise they get

What else can I do to help my child? — You can:

Learn about diabetes – The more you know about it, the better you can take care of it.

Learn to check your child's blood sugar – You will need to check your child's blood sugar level several times every day, even when they feel well. The diabetes team can show you how to do this.

Keep your child's blood sugar levels under control – Levels that are very low or very high can cause serious problems. They need to be treated right away. Also, having high blood sugar levels over many years can damage the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and blood vessels.

Learn the symptoms that could mean that your child's blood sugar level is too low or too high – These symptoms can be different, depending on a child's age.

Learn what to do when your child's blood sugar level is too low or too high – Know when to treat it at home and when to go to the hospital or call for an ambulance.

Have your child wear a medical bracelet or necklace so that others will know about their diabetes in case of an emergency.

What will my child's life be like? — Most children with diabetes lead healthy and active lives. Over time, they learn how to take care of their diabetes on their own.

But having diabetes can make children feel sad or worried. If your child is sad or worried, have them talk to the doctor, nurse, or mental health counselor.

More on this topic

Patient education: Type 1 diabetes (The Basics)
Patient education: Giving your child insulin (The Basics)
Patient education: Checking your child's blood sugar level (The Basics)
Patient education: Controlling blood sugar in children with diabetes (The Basics)
Patient education: Carb counting for children with diabetes (The Basics)
Patient education: Managing diabetes in school (The Basics)
Patient education: Diabetes and diet (The Basics)
Patient education: The ABCs of diabetes (The Basics)
Patient education: Using insulin (The Basics)
Patient education: Hemoglobin A1C tests (The Basics)
Patient education: Coping with high drug prices (The Basics)

Patient education: Type 1 diabetes: Insulin treatment (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Blood glucose monitoring in diabetes (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Type 1 diabetes and diet (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 03, 2022.
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