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Type 2 Diabetes Management for Adolescents
What you need to know about managing your diabetes:
As you get older, you will be able to manage your own health. You may be away from home more often. You may spend more time with your friends or be involved in sports. When you manage your blood sugar levels, you will feel well and be able to enjoy your activities. Your diabetes care team providers can show you how to fit diabetes care into your schedule. Adults, such as your parents and care team providers, are available to help you as you become more active in your diabetes care.
What you can do to manage your blood sugar levels:
- Make healthy food choices. Healthy foods can give you energy to learn and be active. Healthy foods can also help you keep your blood sugar in balance, and manage or lose weight safely. Work with a dietitian to develop a meal plan that works for you and your schedule. A dietitian can help you learn how to eat the right amount of carbohydrates during your meals and snacks. Carbohydrates can raise your blood sugar if you eat too many at one time. Some foods that contain carbohydrates include breads, cereals, french fries, chips, sweets, soda, and juice.
- Get regular physical activity. Physical activity helps to lower your blood sugar levels. It can also help you manage your weight. Get at least 60 minutes of physical activity throughout your day. Include activities 3 days each week that help strengthen your muscles and bones. Ask your care team provider to help you create an activity plan that is right for you. If you use insulin and your blood sugar is high, check your blood or urine for ketones before activity. Do not exercise if your blood sugar is high and you have ketones in your urine or blood.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your care team provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a safe weight loss plan if you are overweight. Weight loss can improve your blood sugar levels.
- Check your blood sugar level as directed and as needed. Ask your care team provider what your blood sugar levels should be.
- Look at your schedule and make a plan for how you will check your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
- Check more often if you think your blood sugar is too high or too low. This will allow you to take care of any low or high blood sugar levels so they do not interfere with your activities.
- Rotate the sites where you do fingersticks. This will help make the checks less painful, and make fingerstick sites less noticeable.
- Write down your blood sugar levels so you can show them to your healthcare provider during your visits. Talk to your care team provider if you are having trouble keeping your blood sugar at the recommended levels.
- Take your diabetes medicine or insulin as directed. You may need diabetes medicine, insulin, or both to help control your blood sugar levels. Your care team provider will teach you how and when to take your diabetes medicine or insulin.
What you need to know about high blood sugar:
High blood sugar may not cause any symptoms. It may cause you to feel more thirsty than usual or urinate more often than usual. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves, blood vessels, tissues, and organs.
- Large meals or large amounts of carbohydrates at one time can raise your blood sugar.
- Decreased physical activity can raise your blood sugar. For example, your blood sugar can increase if you stop playing a sport or getting regular physical activity. Do not sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
- Stress can raise your blood sugar. Ask your parents or care team provider for help if you are having trouble managing stress.
- Illness can raise your blood sugar. This can happen even if you eat less than usual while you are sick. Work with your care team provider and parents to develop a sick day plan. This is a plan that helps you manage your blood sugar levels while you are sick.
- A lower dose of medicine or insulin, or a late dose, can raise your blood sugar. There is not enough time for your medicine or insulin to work as it should if you take it late. When you take a lower dose, there is not enough medicine or insulin needed to lower your blood sugar.
What you need to know about low blood sugar:
You can prevent symptoms such as shakiness, dizziness, irritability, or confusion by preventing your blood sugar from going too low.
- Treat low blood sugar right away. Eat 15 grams of carbohydrate. Have 4 ounces of juice or 3 to 4 tablets of glucose. Check your blood sugar again 10 to 15 minutes later. When your blood sugar goes back to normal, eat a meal or snack to prevent another decrease in blood sugar.
- Your blood sugar can get too low if you take diabetes medicine or insulin and do not eat enough food. It can also happen if you skip a meal or snack.
- Increased physical activity can cause low blood sugar. Check your blood sugar before you exercise. If your blood sugar is below 100 mg/dL, eat 15 grams of carbohydrate. If you will be active for more than 1 hour, check your blood sugar every 30 minutes. You may need to adjust your insulin before activity and have a carbohydrate snack during activity.
Other things you can do to manage your diabetes:
- Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have diabetes. Ask where to get these items.
- Be safe when you learn to drive. Check your blood sugar before you drive if you use insulin, and you think your blood sugar is low. If your blood sugar is low, eat 15 grams of carbohydrate and wait for your blood sugar to go back to normal. Keep snacks that contain carbohydrate in the car. If you feel like your blood sugar is low while you are driving, pull over and check your blood sugar level. Treat low blood sugar before you start driving again, if needed.
- Do not drink alcohol or smoke. Alcohol affects your blood sugar level and can make it harder for you to manage your diabetes. You may not be aware of low blood sugar when you drink alcohol. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your diabetes. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your care team provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
- Have screenings for complications of diabetes and other conditions that happen with diabetes. You will need to be screened for kidney problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood vessel problems, eye problems, and eating disorders. Some screenings may begin right away and some may happen within the first 5 years of diagnosis. You will need to continue screenings through your lifetime. Keep your follow-up appointments with all providers.
- Ask about vaccines. You have a higher risk for serious illness if you get the flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis. Ask your care team provider if you should get a flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis B vaccine, and when to get the vaccine.
What you need to know about diabetes and pregnancy:
Talk to your care team provider about how to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. While you can have a safe pregnancy with diabetes, it is important to plan your pregnancy. Care team providers can help you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Tell your care team provider immediately if you are pregnant or think you are pregnant.
Follow up with your care team provider as directed:
You may need to return to have your A1c every 3 months. An A1c test shows the average amount of sugar in your blood over the past 2 to 3 months. Your care team provider will tell you what your A1c level should be. You may also need to return at least once each year to have your feet checked.
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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.
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