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What Should A Child Or Teen With Diabetes Do Every Day?

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 child or 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 physician. For children with type 1 diabetes, the meal plan must ensure proper nutrition for growth. For children with type 2, the meal plan should outline appropriate changes in eating habits that lead to better energy balance and reduce or prevent obesity. 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 sizes, 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 including reduction in soda and juice consumption. 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

Children with diabetes need regular physical activity, ideally a total of 60 minutes each day. Physical activity helps to lower blood glucose levels, especially in children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes. Physical activity is also a good way to help children control their weight. In children with type 1 diabetes, the most common problem encountered during physical activity is hypoglycemia. If possible, a child or a teen should check blood glucose levels before beginning a game or a sport. If blood glucose levels are too low, the child should not by 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. Children, 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 a child how to use a blood glucose meter properly and how often to use it. Children should keep a journal or other records of blood glucose results to discuss with their health care team. This information helps providers make any needed changes to the child's or teen's personal diabetes plan. Continuous glucose sensing systems are becoming more available.

Take all diabetes medication as prescribed.

Parents, caregivers, school nurses, and others can help a child or teen learn how to take medications as prescribed. For type 1 diabetes, a child or 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.

Last updated December 18, 2009




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