As a parent of a teen who has diabetes, it can be a challenge to help them with their self-care. You need to actively monitor their blood sugar levels, but you also need to give them their freedom as teens so that they don’t feel too different from their peers. Teens find it embarrassing to check their blood sugar or take insulin in front of their friends.
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Symptoms of Diabetes in Teens
The most common signs of diabetes in children and teens are frequent urination, fatigue, and increased thirst. Some may also experience blurred vision and increased hunger. Girls might even develop a yeast infection, and weight loss is a common symptom of prediabetes in teens. Some girls may experience acanthosis nigricans, dark patches of skin and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Children with type 1 diabetes experience symptoms quickly, while children with type 2 diabetes may develop symptoms slower, or remain undiagnosed for months and even years.
Once you notice these symptoms, you should take your child for medical consultation.
Tips for Parents to Help Manage Your Teen’s Diabetes
Your teen needs your support to help deal with their blood sugar levels. It’s important to stay involved and identify when your teen’s blood sugar levels are not going down. It’s also important to keep an up-to-date schedule with your child’s doctor. Use your check-ins with the doctor to figure out some realistic goals for better diabetes care.
Set a weekly time to review blood sugar levels
You should set a weekly reminder to review your child’s blood sugar numbers. This gives your teen some freedom, but also provides a set point of time to monitor any trends in the numbers. This will help your teen avoid any risk of high or low blood sugar that is caused by food, physical activities or some other reasons.
Praise your child
You should use frequent praise with teens to reinforce the importance of diabetes management behaviors. You should avoid being angry and always stay positive about diabetes management. You should work together with your child, as this will be more effective in the long run.
Make changes as a family
Making changes together as a family makes things so much easier for your teen, especially if he or she is the only one who has diabetes. If parents and others in the family can make at least some changes in their diet, self-care becomes a little easier for your teen with diabetes.
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Make use of technology
Diabetes in teens can be often managed by using insulin pumps and monitors. However, this does not mean that monitors and pumps are suitable for everyone. Talk to your health care providers to find out what new technology may help your teen improve self-management. There are many new apps that can help your child with diabetes management.
Extend a helping hand
You can help your teen complete some diabetes-related tasks, such as reminding your teen to review blood sugar levels. You could also help them out with complicated tasks such as calculating insulin and keeping track of carbohydrates.
Watch out for eating disorders and depression
Depression is common in teens with diabetes, and that can make management harder. Talk to your teen’s doctor if you are worried about eating disorders or depression.
Take care of yourself
Dealing with a teenage child’s diabetes can be emotionally stressful for parents. So it is essential to take time out for yourself as well. It’s also important to stay calm and patient. With time, your child will understand the importance of diabetes management, and will be willing and able to manage the disease themselves.
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