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Helping Kids Cope with Type 1 Diabetes

When type 1 diabetes strikes, everything changes. Here’s what you can do to help your child stay balanced.

At first, it seems your child is invincible. There is no tree he won’t climb, no bug she won’t pick up, no child he won’t befriend. And then comes the scariest day of your child’s life, when the doctor says your child has type 1 diabetes. Suddenly, your world comes crashing down and fear sets in.

Visions of glucose injections and difficult diet swarm your brain and you break out in a cold sweat. Then you notice your child is just as worried. What can you do to help your child cope with type 1 diabetes? Use these tips to get started.

Know the Condition

Understanding diabetes goes a long way toward easing your child’s fears of the condition. A few years ago, type 1 diabetes was known as adolescent diabetes because of its frequency in children. With type 1 diabetes, your child’s body doesn’t produce insulin, a natural hormone that works to turn food into energy.
As kids often do, your son may feel guilty for getting type 1 diabetes, thinking he did something wrong. As his parent, be sure to assure him that he did nothing wrong. In fact, it is currently unknown what makes kids get type 1 diabetes, so there is no way to know who will get it and who won’t.

Know what to Expect

Yes, your son or daughter will need to take insulin. When your child first learns that she will have to stick herself with a small needle each day for her good health, she will probably cringe at the thought. After all, no one likes needles.
Fortunately, children adapt the regular needle sticks quickly – especially when they see how much better it makes them feel. Let your daughter know how great she does with each needle stick and point out the difference it makes in her attitude and overall health. Getting shots each day will certainly make your daughter seem different, but the difference can be positive!

See the Symptoms

Wonder if your child may be suffering from type 1 diabetes?

Though it isn’t always clear that your child has diabetes, there are a few telltale signs that may signal type 1 diabetes. If your child suffers any of the following, it may be diabetes:

  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • unexplainable weight loss
  • feeling tired
  • reverting to bed wetting long after successful potty training
  • vaginal yeast infection in prepubescent females
  • fruity-smelling breath
  • breathing problems

Know the Downsides

Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes is not a condition that can be overcome in a night. Once your child is diagnosed with the condition, your child will spend the rest of his or her life battling it. If you and your child don’t work diligently, the end result could be disastrous later in life.

Diabetes that is not managed properly can eventually lead to heart disease, stroke, skin disorders, vision problems, gum disease, and other dangerous and deadly diseases. If your son starts smoking or drinking as an adult, and he puts himself at an even greater risk for these conditions.

Know the Doctor

For the best chance at a healthy childhood, adolescence, and adulthood with type 1 diabetes, it is vital that you and your child have a strong relationship with your child’s physician. Having complete trust in your child’s pediatrician from day one will help your child feel comfortable following doctor’s orders consistently.

In addition to your son’s regular pediatrician, he will probably need to see a pediatric endocrinologist, a physician who specializes in diseases such as diabetes. By getting specialist support from the endocrinologist, your child will be equipped with tools to survive and thrive with diabetes!

Nothing Slowed Them Down

If your child thinks diabetes will keep him or her from changing the world, tell your child about these well-known people who have all made their dreams come true.

Thomas Edison – Invented the light bulb and the record player.
Nick Jonas – Lead singer and guitarist for Jonas Brothers.
Walt Kelly – Cartoon artist who worked for Walt Disney and DC Comics.
Laura Ingalls Wilder – Wrote Little House on the Prairie.
Ray Kroc – Founded the world-famous restaurant chain McDonald’s.

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