AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Img type 2 diabetes Diabetic Children And Youth Face Special Challenges

Cases of Type 2 Diabetes in children and teens have risen in the past decade, and this shows no signs of slowing down. Researchers speculate that increased obesity in this age group, stemming from poor eating habits and inactivity, factor significantly into the increase of diabetes cases. Children and teens today spend much more time engaged in sedentary activities than at any other time in history. While no longer rare, a diabetes diagnosis poses distinctive challenges for young people.

Physical Issues

A growing child or teen requires optimum nutrition and calories to function. Diabetes places extra challenges on a body that is already working hard at normal function and growth. Kids and teens with this disorder must be especially careful regarding eating proper meals and getting exercise.

All kids and teens tend to get sick with colds and other infections more often than adults do. This is partly due to a developing immune system and partly due to being around other kids all day. Diabetic kids and teens are more prone to these infections and sometimes take longer recovering from them.

Another physical challenge faced by youth with diabetes is simply being children, and often not as mature, aware or responsible as adults. Children and some teens may find it difficult to tell when their blood sugar is off balance. They require diligent monitoring for this reason.

Young children who need insulin injections must have assistance. Although some diabetes cases are managed with oral medications, many diabetic kids must deal with these injections daily. In the beginning, it is common for children to experience fear when they have to have these shots.

Finally, accidental insulin overdose happens more easily in children due to their small size. Insulin dosage requirements may frequently change for a child as he grows.

Emotional Issues

In addition to physical challenges, children with diabetes are faced with unique emotional issues as well.  They may worry about their future health, or even develop a fear that they may die. This can happen if they have seen something upsetting online or on television about diabetes. Offer reassurance that diabetes can be maintained and that your child can stay healthy by following his diabetes diet, getting exercise and taking his medicine.

Kids and teens may feel awkward and embarrassed that they have diabetes. Parents can help by acquainting them with other kids or teens who also have the condition and by working on their self-esteem.

Moodiness is common in all preteens and teens. Fluctuations in blood sugar exacerbate this, making diabetic kids and teens more prone to depression. Keep compassionate lines of communication with the child so he feels comfortable sharing his feelings.

Social Issues

Children and teens want to fit in, and they face a lot of peer pressure. At social gatherings, a diabetic may be tempted to eat sugary foods and avoid taking his insulin so that he fits in with the group. He may even ignore shakiness, fatigue or other signs of blood sugar imbalance in order not to draw attention to his disorder.

Other kids can be cruel. If the diabetic child is the only one in class with the disorder, he may be picked on. Parents should discuss this with teachers and other appropriate school personnel such as counselors, administrators, and the school nurse.

Kids with diabetes do best if they have good peer support. One popular way to find new friends is to attend diabetes summer camps. If this is not possible, kids can join online support groups or sometimes find local groups.

Managing the multiple challenges that accompany a diabetes diagnosis is important and takes strength of character. Kids should know they are not alone in handling this condition.

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Written by SueAnn Spencer. SueAnn Spencer is a public health educator who works with families to develop workable plans to help manage diabetes and other chronic medical conditions. She frequently contributes to Online MPH.


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