If your child has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be unsure about the next steps to take. Your family will have to adapt to a lot of changes very fast.
If your child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, that means their body no longer produces insulin. Because insulin is necessary for survival, the missing insulin needs to be replaced with injections or with an insulin pump. There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes in children, but it can be managed. You can help prevent its complications by helping your child maintain good blood glucose levels, feeding them healthy food, and ensuring they participate in regular physical activity.
The biggest change will be regularly checking your child’s blood glucose levels using a blood glucose monitoring machine and giving them insulin injections. Your doctor will tell you how many times you should be checking their blood glucose levels.
It could be anywhere from 6 to 12 times a day. If your test shows that your child needs insulin, you will have to give them an injection. For children, this can be the hardest part as if they are young, they may not fully understand what diabetes is or why they need injections every day. Getting a continuous glucose monitoring machine, such as the FreeStyle Libre can be helpful for children as CGMs don’t require finger pricks, but work through a sensor.
At first, monitoring your child’s blood glucose levels can be overwhelming, but it will get easier with practice. Besides using a glucose monitoring device, you will also be able to tell by your child’s pediatric diabetes symptoms.
The key to managing pediatric diabetes is controlling it. Besides measuring blood glucose levels and giving injections, you must also ensure that your child regularly eats a healthy diet. This doesn’t mean they can’t eat chocolate or cake at all, but that the amount of sweets they eat need to be measured and counted. For lunch and dinner they should be given plenty of leafy green vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, proteins, and healthy carbohydrates such as brown bread, brown rice, and roti.
Exercise is also an important part of controlling diabetes management. It is great for controlling diabetes, but you need to check your child’s blood glucose levels before and after they engage in strenuous physical activity.
Children with diabetes don’t need to miss school any more than other children if their condition is managed well. As long as their diabetes is managed well, they can take part in all the activities that kids normally do such as school trips, sleepovers, and parties. If your child is ill, it’s advisable to check their blood glucose more often and take extra precautions.
If your child is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it means the cells in your child’s body don’t respond to insulin, and glucose builds up in the bloodstream. This is called insulin resistance. While Type 1 diabetes has a genetic basis, the biggest cause of Type 2 diabetes is being overweight.
If your child has Type 2 diabetes, you must monitor what they eat. It is best to create a diet plan with a dietician. You will need to get your child to understand that they must eat healthy to be healthy. You will also need to instil the importance of exercising for at least 60 minutes a day.
If children are at a normal weight and eating less sweets, unhealthy fats, and calories, and getting enough exercise, it will have an effect on reducing insulin resistance.
As with Type 1 diabetes, the doctor will prescribe how often you should measure your child’s blood glucose and which medication you should give.