taking medicine if the doctor feels it's necessary
checking blood sugar levels often
Doing all three can get a little confusing because there's a lot to remember. What
comes in handy when you can't keep everything straight in your head? A plan, where
everything is written down for you. That's why kids (and adults) who have diabetes
get their own diabetes treatment plan.
This plan will help you and your parents know what to do to help you stay healthy,
active, growing, and feeling good. You, your parents, and members of your diabetes
health care team will work together to make a treatment plan that's right for
you. Doing what your plan tells you to do will help keep you healthy now — and
help you avoid health problems later.
The plan's main goal is to keep blood sugar levels (also called blood
glucose levels) from getting too high or too low. The body gets glucose
(say: GLOO-kose), a sugar, from the food we eat. Glucose is carried through the bloodstream
to all the cells in the body. Glucose provides energy for the body's cells so they
can work. Insulin (say:
IN-suh-lin) is a hormone that helps the glucose get into the cells.
In kids who have type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn't do its job as well, so glucose
is less able to enter the cells. It just hangs around and builds up in the blood,
causing the blood glucose level to rise. And when blood sugar levels go too high,
a person can feel sick and may have health problems.
Nobody wants that, so let's look at the three steps that will help keep a kid with
type 2 diabetes feeling good.
Getting to a Healthy Weight
How can a kid get to a healthy weight? The first step is to talk with your doctor,
who can tell you how to eat healthy and add exercise (also known as play) into your
If you take these steps, and your weight improves, you may be able to get your
blood sugar levels into a healthier range. If that happens, your doctor may decide
you don't have to take medicine for diabetes anymore.
To eat healthy, your doctor might suggest that you watch out for two "C's" —
carbohydrates and calories. You don't want too
much of either one. Foods containing a lot of carbohydrates, such as pasta and candy,
will make your blood sugar levels increase, which can make it harder to keep your
diabetes under control.
And calories — you probably know — are units of energy that each food
contains. If you eat too many calories and don't burn off the extra energy, your body
will store it as fat. Too much stored fat can cause someone to be overweight.
A diabetes meal
plan can help you learn about balanced, healthy eating. It's a plan that's written
down and designed especially for you. Meal plans can help guide you about what kinds
of foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. And the plan also can teach
you how to eat the right amounts to help you get to a healthy weight and control your
blood sugar levels.
Some kids might think they don't like exercise, but not all exercise is the same.
Did you know that playing in an active way — like playing tag or being at the
playground — is considered exercise? It is. Really, any kind of play that gets
you moving is a kind of exercise. Even helping your mom or dad with chores around
the house can be exercise. Hauling groceries in from the car? That's exercise too.
Not only does exercise help kids stay at a healthy weight, it can lower blood sugar
levels and help you feel more fit. Exercise can make blood sugar levels change, so
you might be worried that you'll feel sick while being active.
Your diabetes health care team can tell you what to do if you don't feel right
while you're exercising. Knowing what to do before it happens can help you deal with
it more easily and start feeling better faster.
Don't worry if you don't understand everything about diet and exercise. Between
your doctor, other members of your health care team, and your family, you'll have
lots of grownups to help you — just ask!
Medicine taken by mouth is sometimes used to treat type 2 diabetes. This medicines
help people make or use insulin better. But sometimes medicine taken by mouth still
isn't enough to keep blood sugar levels under control.
Kids with type 2 diabetes might have to take insulin
shots. No one likes to get shots, but the good news is that kids who eat healthy
foods, stay active, and get to a good weight might be able to get their blood sugar
levels back down to normal. If they do that, they might not even need to take any
medicines at all.
Checking Blood Sugar Levels
Checking your blood sugar levels is like giving yourself a little checkup. How
is your treatment plan working? Your blood sugar level can provide a clue. Testing
your blood sugar level is the only way to know how you are doing with your diabetes
control from day to day.
Your doctor will also check your blood sugar with a hemoglobin
A1c test (HbA1c test for short). The test gives your care team information about
your blood sugar levels. This helps doctors know if you need to make changes in your
diabetes care plan.
Your diabetes health care team will let you and your parents know what your blood
sugar levels should be and when you should test them. Kids with type 2 diabetes usually
test blood sugar levels with a blood
glucose meter at least twice a day. You may have to test more often than that
if you're taking insulin, have just been told you have type 2 diabetes, or are having
some trouble keeping your blood sugar levels under control.
Does that sound like a lot to remember? It is — but remember that you have
your plan to guide you and lots of adults to help you put that plan into action!