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Children with diabetes can take part in sports just like children without diabetes. Children who use insulin are at risk for low blood glucose (sugar) during and after exercise.
Good planning means checking blood glucose before, during, and after exercise. Keep a record of how exercise affects your child's blood glucose level. Using your records, you can learn to predict how your child will react to being active.
Here are some things you can do to help your child exercise safely.
Teachers and coaches may not know the signs of sudden high or low blood glucose. You might need to explain what symptoms your child may have and how to deal with them.
You can buy these at most drugstores. Or try a temporary medical ID tattoo. All of these products can help medical personnel give the right care.
Make a checklist that you and your child can follow. Make sure that your child uses it with the gym teacher or coach too.
For example, if your child will be running, don't inject it in the leg.
If your child's blood glucose is below the target range before exercise, consider giving your child 15 grams of carbohydrate for every extra 30 minutes of exercise.
If your child will be exercising very hard and for longer than 30 minutes, you may want to give another 15 grams of carbohydrate from a quick-sugar food. Younger children may need less carbohydrate. Talk with your child's doctor or diabetes care team to see what makes sense. Have glucose tablets or a quick-sugar food (such as hard candy) or drink (such as fruit juice) close by in case of low blood glucose. Treat the low blood glucose right away. When your child feels better and their blood glucose has returned to their target range, they can return to their activity.
This helps to avoid dehydration. (You can also use sports drinks to give your child needed fluids and sugar.)
It can be used if your child is unable to take anything by mouth or is unconscious.
This is especially important to do if it's a new activity or an activity that takes longer than usual, such as a tournament.
Adaptation Date: 6/14/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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