Children with type 1 diabetes can live a normal life. Nevertheless, they need special attention. What parents, teachers, and caregivers need to know
1. Children with diabetes
When children develop type 1 diabetes, a lot of things change – for the little patients themselves and their parents. The participants must pay attention to the diet, regularly measure the blood sugar and inject insulin. The therapy accompanies the little patients throughout the day, at home, in kindergarten or at school.
That sounds complicated. And indeed, diabetes management is a significant overhead for affected families. But do not panic! Immediately after the diagnosis, parents and children learn in special training sessions how to master diabetes in everyday life so that the various measures quickly become flesh and blood.
Despite all this, children with diabetes can mostly lead a normal life and maintain their habits and activities. They do not have to be packed in cotton, on the contrary: Especially when they learn how to cope with difficult situations, they gain in experience, self-confidence, and safety.
For the sake of their children, parents should be as open as possible and educate their environment about diabetes and its treatment. The better informed all participants are, the more confident they will be in dealing with the disease. Here are some tips for parents, carers, and teachers of children with diabetes.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Most people have type 1 diabetes when children develop diabetes. This is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas. These produce the hormone insulin, which is necessary to pass sugar from the blood into the cells. If the beta cells are completely destroyed, those affected no longer produce their own insulin and the blood sugar level rises. They need to deliver the vital hormone from outside to regulate their values – usually by injecting it. Without insulin, there are serious metabolic disorders that can be fatal. In addition, increased levels of sugar permanently damage many organs in the body.
If numerous beta cells are already destroyed, insulin deficiency often manifests with symptoms such as thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, weight loss and nausea. Type 1 diabetes often develops within a few days and weeks. Therefore, parents should consult a doctor in good time if the symptoms occur.
Far less common in children in Europe is type 2 diabetes , which can be the result of obesity and lack of exercise. Although the pancreas still produces insulin, it is worse. Therefore, even in type 2 diabetes, the blood sugar levels rise. He is usually initially treated but not with insulin, but with tablets.
2. Diabetes therapy in children
Children with type 1 diabetes have too little or no insulin. The result is that the sugar from the blood does not reach the cells, where it is needed for energy. Instead, the blood sugar rises. The treatment of type 1 diabetes aims to get the metabolism under control again and to avoid high or low blood glucose levels. For more about too high and too low values, see 3.
The attending physician will adjust the target values as well as the therapy according to the metabolism attitude, the living conditions and the individual possibilities of the child. In training, parents and children learn how to cope with everyday life with diabetes and what to look for. Also for teachers and supervisors ,there are training courses in which they can inform themselves.
Blood sugar levels lower with insulin
Children with type 1 diabetes need insulin several times a day to lower their blood sugar levels. This can be done either with a syringe or by pensplash under the skin. Increasingly, young diabetes patients in Germany also receive an insulin pump that continuously delivers insulin into the tissue.
Standard in the conventional form of treatment is the intensified insulin therapy. In this, the children receive a long-acting insulin, which should cover the basic needs – the so-called basal insulin. In addition, short-acting insulins should catch the blood sugar increases after eating and correct excessively high blood sugar levels.
Dosage should take into account the current blood glucose level as well as the upcoming meal and physical activity. Because diet and exercise affect the blood sugar level. In principle, children with diabetes can eat everything. Even sugar is not taboo. However, she and her parents need to learn how to correctly calculate the carbohydrate content of a meal. Only then do they know how much insulin they need to inject to make up for the sugar increase after eating. In order to prevent the blood sugar from sinking too low, schoolchildren with diabetes must be allowed to eat in the classroom outside of school breaks if necessary. Otherwise, there is a risk of heavy hypoglycaemia .
Insulin pump: aan lternative to spraying
Insulin pumps are small devices that are comfortable to wear on the body. At the push of a button, they deliver a dose of insulin to correct blood glucose levels. In addition, they are constantly pouring out a small amount of insulin to cover their basic needs.
Especially in small children, the therapy with the insulin pump has some advantages. The spraying with the pen is eliminated. With this, the small amounts of insulin that infants need, often dosing badly, which can be a cause of blood sugar fluctuations. The pump works better. Even for parents or caregivers, the insulin delivery is easier than pressing a button or pen with sa yringe.
Parents must apply for an insulin pump with the health insurance. You should work hand in hand with the attending physician. The cash registers do not always cover the costs of the pump.