Type 1 Diabetes in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that develops when the body cannot make enough insulin. Insulin helps sugar (also called glucose) enter the body's cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, sugar and acids called ketones build up in the blood. Very high blood sugar and ketones can be life-threatening. Over time, high blood sugar can cause serious problems. These include diseases of the heart, large blood vessels, eyes, nerves, and kidneys.

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition. To live a healthy life, your child needs insulin shots several times a day, a good diet, and exercise.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow your child's treatment plan for diabetes. Your child needs to:
    • Take insulin as directed.
    • Eat a good diet that spreads carbohydrate throughout the day.
    • Get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably every day.
    • Check and record his or her blood sugar several times a day. Your child's doctor or other diabetes expert will tell you when the levels should be checked. You need to check your child's blood sugar if he or she is too young to do it. It is important to keep track of any symptoms your child has, such as low blood sugar, and any changes in your child's activities, diet, or insulin use.
  • Follow instructions to treat high blood sugar. The symptoms of high blood sugar include:
    • A dry mouth and increased thirst.
    • Urinating often.
    • Warm, dry skin.
    • Fast, deep breathing.
    • A strong, fruity breath odour.
  • Follow instructions to treat low blood sugar. The symptoms of low blood sugar include:
    • Sweating.
    • Shakiness and weakness.
    • Hunger.
    • Dizziness.
    • A fast heartbeat.
    • Confusion.
  • Work with your child's doctor to write up a sick-day plan for what to do on days when your child is sick. Your child's blood sugar can go up or down, depending on the illness and whether he or she can keep food down. Call the doctor when your child is sick, to see if you need to adjust his or her insulin.
  • Join a support group for parents of children with diabetes. Local groups are available in most areas.
  • Have your child go to a camp for children with diabetes. These camps can help your child learn about diabetes. Plus, your child may like being around other kids with diabetes.
  • Call your doctor or nurse call line or other diabetes expert if you have questions about your child's care.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if your child:

  • Has passed out (lost consciousness), or your child suddenly become very sleepy or confused. (Your child may have very low blood sugar.)
  • Has symptoms of high blood sugar, such as:
    • Blurred vision.
    • Trouble staying awake or being woken up.
    • Fast, deep breathing.
    • Breath that smells fruity.
    • Belly pain, not feeling hungry, and vomiting.
    • Feeling confused.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if your child:

  • Is sick and has blood sugar that cannot be controlled.
  • Has been vomiting or has diarrhea for more than 6 hours.
  • Has blood sugar that stays higher than the level your doctor has set for your child.
  • Has symptoms of low blood sugar, such as:
    • Sweating.
    • Feeling nervous, shaky, and weak.
    • Extreme hunger and slight nausea.
    • Dizziness and a headache.
    • Blurred vision.
    • Confusion.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child:

  • Has trouble knowing when his or her blood sugar is low.
  • Has trouble keeping his or her blood sugar in the target range.
  • Often has problems controlling his or her blood sugar.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

Enter E159 in the search box to learn more about "Type 1 Diabetes in Children: Care Instructions."

Current as of: May 23, 2016