Teenagers And Diabetes: Disease Doesn't Clip Your Wings
Teenagers are building their self-image, experiencing new things and seeking validation from their peers. It shouldn’t be surprising that diabetes weighs heavily on them.
Teenagers may feel like rebelling against the whole routine surrounding diabetes management. Blood glucose tests remind them that they’re different and give them the impression of being constantly monitored. They might want to avoid being confronted with the results of a test so as not to feel discouraged or guilty.
Here are some suggestions for easing the tension:
- Gradually loosen up on control as your teenager shows they can take care of themselves.
- Encourage their efforts and highlight their successes.
- Offer to help them out by logging their test results yourself instead of criticizing them and worrying if they don’t do it.
- Find what will motivate them to manage their diabetes properly.
The hormonal changes that occur during adolescence affect blood sugar and can increase the body’s resistance to insulin. Thus, an abnormal blood glucose test result doesn’t necessarily mean your child made a mistake.
And although diabetes has no effect on menstruation, progesterone and estrogen can affect blood sugar levels. Insulin doses have to be adjusted accordingly.
Self-image and eating disorders
Semi-obsessive blood sugar management can lead young people with type 1 diabetes to develop an eating disorder. Skipping insulin doses to lose a few pounds may be tempting, but in addition to the short-term dehydration and fatigue this will cause, it can have long-term consequences as serious as blindness or heart or kidney disease.
How to approach alcohol
If the teenager chooses to drink alcohol, they need to be aware that alcohol and diabetes is a dangerous combination. After a drink or two, they may not notice the first symptoms of low blood sugar, and the situation can quickly take a turn for the worse. Ideally, they would go to parties with a friend who is very familiar with diabetes.
Soon, your child will have learned to stand on their own two feet—just like you when you were their age!
Healthtalk.org, “Managing Diabetes As a Teenager”: http://www.healthtalk.org/young-peoples-experiences/diabetes-type-1/managing-diabetes-teenager. Accessed January 23, 2015.
Janice H. Dada, “Understanding Diabulimia- Know the Signs and Symptoms to Better Counsel Female Patients”: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/080112p14.shtml. Accessed January 23, 2015.
JDRF, “Teen Tool Kit”: http://www.jdrf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/JDRFTEENTOOLKIT.pdf. Accessed January 28, 2015.
AboutKidsHealth, “Teenagers with Diabetes”: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/IWK/EN/ResourceCentres/Diabetes/AtHome/GrowthDevelopment/Pages/Teenagers-with-Diabetes.aspx. Accessed January 23, 2015.
Also based on:
Roche, “Surviving High School. Once Again.”: http://www.accu-chekdiabeteslink.com/surviving-high-school-once-again.html. Accessed January 23, 2015.