Does your child have diabetes? If it’s not properly addressed, it can have disastrous consequences at some point in their life. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes you can make with your child to help them manage their diabetes and lead a more healthy life.
At Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics, we’re experts on diabetes, and we can help your child manage their condition. In this blog, Nicolette Marak, MD, discusses the two types of diabetes along with how lifestyle changes can help those affected.
In a body that works like it should, food is turned into blood sugar. The pancreas then produces insulin, which is a hormone that enables the sugar to get from the blood and into the body’s cells for energy. With Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, there’s a breakdown in this system.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, occurs because the pancreas makes little to no insulin. Because of this, blood sugar can’t naturally enter the body’s cells, so it builds up in the blood.
Experts don’t know what causes this, although genetics and certain viruses or environmental factors are thought to play a role. Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin for life to stay healthy and manage their diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
With Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does produce insulin. However, the cells don’t respond properly to the insulin, so the sugar stays in the blood and builds up.
If left unchecked, diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.
Here are some common symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes:
- Frequent bladder infections
- Skin infections and wounds that don’t heal easily
- Needing to urinate often
- Weight loss despite more appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Blurred vision
- Weakness and fatigue
- Irritability and mood changes
In some cases, parents may not notice the symptoms of diabetes because they can develop slowly. Additionally, many symptoms are not exclusive to diabetes, so testing is recommended.
When it comes to managing diabetes, lifestyle changes can help those who have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes live well. In fact, lifestyle changes might even reduce the need for medication in children living with Type 2 diabetes.
As noted previously, though, Type 1 diabetes isn’t generally reversible, so while good lifestyle changes can lead to healthy living, insulin shots are needed for life.
There are three main areas of focus when it comes to helping children manage diabetes: dietary changes, regular physical activity, and weight management.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends making lifestyle changes as a family. Dietary changes can start small, such as trading soda for water and eating more fruits and veggies instead of snack foods.
You can make family favorites with healthy substitutions and invite your children to get involved in making meals. And while it isn’t always possible, try to have dinner at some kind of table and take it slowly, as it can take 20 minutes to feel full.
When it comes to regular physical activity, aim for 60 minutes of exercise a day, but this can be broken up into multiple chunks to accommodate busy schedules. Take family walks or encourage your children to join a sports team.
And try to limit screen time to about two hours a day. When it comes to activity, stay positive and work on building up strength and endurance.
The great thing about implementing dietary changes and engaging in regular physical activity is that these two things can go a long way toward helping your child manage their weight. If your child starts to gain too much weight, we can make further recommendations on your child’s diet and physical activity routine.
To learn more about diabetes or to get testing for your child, book an appointment over the phone with Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics today.