Helping Adolescents Manage Diabetes

The health care professional team, in partnership with the young person with diabetes and parents or other caregivers, needs to develop a personal diabetes management plan and daily schedule.

The plan helps the  teen to follow a healthy meal plan, get regular physical activity, check blood glucose levels, take insulin or oral medication as prescribed, and manage hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.

Follow a healthy meal plan: Young people with diabetes need to follow a meal plan developed by a registered dietitian, diabetes educator, or doctor.

For adolescents with diabetes, the meal plan should outline appropriate changes in eating habits that ensure proper nutrition for growth and reduce or prevent obesity.

A meal plan also helps keep blood glucose levels in the target range.

Adolescents and their families must learn how different types of food – especially carbohydrates such as breads, pasta, and rice – can affect blood glucose levels.

Portion sizes, the right amount of calories for the teens’s age and activity level, and ideas for healthy food choices at meal and snack time also should be discussed, including reduction in soda and juice intake.

Family support for following the meal plan and setting up regular meal times are keys to success, especially if the teen is taking insulin.

For more great Health and Nutrition Tips refer to the website

17 Superfoods For Teens

Get regular physical activity: Young people with diabetes need regular physical activity, ideally a total of 60 minutes each day.

Physical activity helps to lower blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Physical activity is also a good way to help teens control their weight.

In teens with type 1 diabetes, the most common problem encountered during physical activity is hypoglycemia.

If possible, a teen should check blood glucose levels before beginning a game or a sport.

If blood glucose levels are too low, the young person should not be physically active until the low blood glucose level has been treated.

Check blood glucose levels regularly: Young people with diabetes should know the acceptable range for their blood glucose.

Teens particularly those using insulin, should check blood glucose values regularly with a blood glucose meter, preferably one with a built-in memory.

A health care team member can teach the  teen how to use a blood glucose meter properly and how often to use it.

Teens should keep a journal or other records such as downloaded computer files of their glucose meter results to discuss with their health care team. This information helps providers make any needed changes to the teen’s personal diabetes plan.

Continuous glucose monitoring systems are available for young people and adults with type 1 diabetes.

All continuous glucose sensing systems have the same basic components: a sensor that is placed underneath the skin to measure interstitial glucose (the glucose found in the fluid between cells), a small transmitter worn on the body that connects to the sensor, and a hand-held cell-phone sized receiver that displays the current glucose levels and trends.

Some systems integrate the receiver into an insulin pump, thereby reducing the number of extra components that need to be carried.

By having more glucose values available, users are able to see trends and better understand the effects of different foods, exercise, stress, and illness.

Receivers sound an alarm when the person’s glucose level drops below or goes above a certain pre-set level and in some systems when the projected glucose level will be high or low in 10 or 20 minutes, giving users a chance to prevent high or low blood glucose with early treatment.

Take all diabetes medication as prescribed: Parents, caregivers, school nurses, and others can help a  teen learn how to take medications as prescribed.

For type 1 diabetes, a teen takes insulin at prescribed times each day via multiple injections or an insulin pump.

Some young people with type 2 diabetes need oral medication or insulin or both.

In any case, it is important to stress that all medication should be balanced with food and activity every day.

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