There are two types of diabetes including Type I or Type II. Both types of diabetes are disorders of glucose. Typically, the type of diabetes that strikes in childhood is known as Type I Diabetes; however, more children are being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. As the parent or caregiver of a person with childhood diabetes, education and information is imperative.
1. Allow yourself and your child to go through the grief process after receiving the diagnosis of diabetes. Childhood diabetes changes your way of life and you and your child have the right to grieve the loss of life as you knew it.
2. Form your child’s diabetes care team. The team should include the following professionals: doctor, diabetes educator, dietician, mental health professional, eye doctor and pharmacist. Also, have the names of a podiatrist and exercise specialist available if needed.
3. Ask your health care provider to teach you and your child how to administer insulin and correctly check your child’s blood glucose. Teachers or other caregivers should consult with the school nurse regarding checking a student’s blood glucose.
4. Maintain a record of your child’s blood glucose levels. Include food that was eaten prior to testing, time of day and blood glucose level.
5. Learn the signs of low blood sugar including: hunger, paleness, sweating, glassy eyes, dilated pupils, trembling, headaches, weakness, speech problems, inattention, sleepiness, change in personality, loss of consciousness or seizure. Keep in mind that your child may not exhibit all of the signs. Each child looks different when blood sugar gets low.
6. Plan what your child eats and when he eats. You can make this fun for your child by allowing him to participate in the planning. There are different methods for balancing meals including making exchanges and counting carbohydrates. Talk to your dietician about what method works best for you and your child.
7. Visit with your child’s care team about exercise. Exercise should be encouraged, but will need to be managed as it reduces the amount of glucose in the body and can result in low blood glucose levels.