Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 In Children
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a disease that affects how your child's body makes insulin and uses glucose (sugar). Insulin helps move sugar out of the blood so it can be used for energy. Normally, when the blood sugar level increases, the pancreas makes more insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops because your child's immune system destroys pancreas cells that make insulin. His pancreas cannot make enough insulin, so his blood sugar level continues to rise.
- Insulin: Your child will need 1 or more doses of insulin each day. Insulin can be injected or given through an insulin pump. Ask your child's healthcare provider which method is best for your child. You and your child will be taught how to give insulin injections if this is the best method for him. Give your child insulin as directed. Too much insulin may cause his blood sugar level to go too low.
- Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not helping or if he has side effects. Tell your child's healthcare provider if your child takes any vitamins, herbs, or other medicines. Keep a list of the medicines he takes. Include the amounts, and when and why he takes them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider or specialist as directed:
Your child will need yearly eye exams to check for retinopathy. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Check your child's blood sugar level as directed:
You will be taught how to use a glucose monitor. You will need to check your child's blood sugar level at least 3 times each day. Ask his healthcare provider when and how often to check during the day. Ask what your child's blood sugar levels should be before and after he eats. You may need to check for ketones in his urine or blood if his blood sugar level is higher than directed. Write down the results, and show them to your child's healthcare provider. He may use the results to make changes to your child's medicine, food, or exercise schedules.
If your child's blood sugar level is too low:
Ask your child's healthcare provider for a plan to use if your child's blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dL. Ask how much fast-acting carbohydrate or how many glucose tablets to give your child. Check the level again 15 minutes later. If his blood sugar level is above 70 mg/dL, give him a small snack. If it is still below 70 mg/dL, give him fast-acting carbohydrates or glucose tablets as directed. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information on diabetic hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level).
Medical alert identification:
Have your child wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says he has diabetes. Ask his healthcare provider where to get these items.
Your child's dietitian will help you create a meal plan to keep your child's blood sugar level steady.
Exercise can help keep your child's blood sugar level steady and help him lose weight. Have your child exercise for at least 60 minutes on most days of the week. Work with your child's healthcare provider to create an exercise plan. Your child may need a carbohydrate snack before, during, or after he exercises. Check your child's blood sugar level before and after he exercises. If it is less than 100 mg/dL, give him a carbohydrate snack before exercise. Examples are 4 to 6 crackers, ½ banana, 8 ounces (1 cup) of milk, or 4 ounces (½ cup) of juice. If your child's level is high, check his blood or urine for ketones before he exercises. Do not let your child exercise if his blood sugar level is high and he has ketones in his urine or blood.
Diabetes can put your child at risk of serious illness if he gets the flu or pneumonia. Ask your child's healthcare provider if your child should get a flu or pneumonia vaccine, and when to get the vaccine.
Cigarette smoke can worsen the problems that may occur with diabetes. Do not smoke around your child, and do not let others smoke around him. Do not let your child smoke. Ask your child's healthcare provider for information about how to stop smoking if you need help quitting.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child is vomiting or has diarrhea.
- Your child has an upset stomach and cannot eat the foods on his meal plan.
- Your child feels dizzy or has headaches.
- Your child feels weak or more tired than usual.
- Your child has numbness in his arms or legs.
- Your child has red, dry skin.
- Your child gets easily irritated.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your child's blood sugar level is lower than directed and does not improve with treatment.
- Your child has blurred or double vision.
- Your child is having trouble staying awake or focusing.
- Your child is shaking or sweating.
- Your child's breath has a fruity, sweet smell, or his breathing is deep and labored.
- Your child's heartbeat is fast and weak.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.