Puberty and Diabetes

As if diabetes in children is not already difficult to control, adolescence and puberty can make it even harder. All the hormonal changes under way can make blood glucose and insulin levels swing wildly, no matter how carefully the adolescent with diabetes works to stay within normal levels.

One hormone in particular is believed to be the culprit. During puberty, growth hormone stimulates bone and muscle mass to grow, and it also works to block insulin. At the same time, as blood sugar falls, another hormone called adrenaline is released into the bloodstream, which triggers the release of stored glucose. The result is that blood glucose can fluctuate up and down very quickly.

trouble regulating her blood sugar, as do many pregnant women with diabetes because of the many changes that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy. So her doctor suggested she begin using an external insulin pump, which is worn near the waist and regularly sends insulin into the body through a small tube. Using an insulin pump means not having to inject insulin. She began using a pump and found it so easy to use and so helpful in regulating her blood sugar, she soon knew she would never give it up. "It gives me a lot more convenience and makes my life a lot more normal,"26 she says. Koehler has had many years to adjust to the fact that she has diabetes, and for a long time she has taken excellent care of herself. She still ends up in the hospital sometimes, as do many diabetics who are careful about managing their diabetes, simply because this is an unpredictable disease. Today, she is better prepared when that happens and works harder than she did in childhood to make sure it happens less often.

She has some hard-won advice for people newly diagnosed with diabetes, whether it be type 1 or 2. She says, "First, listen to the professionals," followed by, "Hands on, minds on,"27 meaning that learning as much as possible about diabetes self-care is important. As someone who has had diabetes since childhood, she knows the importance of support from peer groups. If kids with diabetes can attend special camps or groups that teach them about diabetes and gives them an opportunity to meet other kids with the illness, that can be a huge help.

"They need to believe in themselves and do what they can to take care of themselves," she says. "It's up to them. No one else can do it for them. They have to accept that they have diabetes and persevere."28

Diabetes 2

Diabetes 2

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...

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