Pediatric diabetes is a lifelong condition that requires daily management to keep sugar levels controlled. The journey is challenging for both child and parent. It may surprise you what a day in the life looks like for the families affected by pediatric diabetes.
What Children Experience with Pediatric Diabetes
Sugar is an essential fuel for the body. The primary type of sugar, glucose, is produced by our liver and enters our body with the foods we eat or what we drink. For our body to turn the sugar into energy, a hormone called insulin must unlock the body’s cells so the sugar can enter. Diabetes is a disease that affects the production of insulin or how the body responds to it. Symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Drinking a lot of liquids
- Weight loss
Without proper care, sugar levels will build up in the blood and cause short- and long-term complications, even death. Managing pediatric diabetes takes a village to cover the body and mind. Patient care could involve help from a nutritionist, endocrinologist, mental health provider, parents, and primary care doctor. All will work together as the child grows to ensure they:
- Take insulin and other medication as directed
- Eat a well-balanced diet that limits the sugars and carbs consumed
- Have blood sugar levels checked at the prescribed intervals
- Maintain physical activity
School, Caregiving, and Other Considerations
Leaving the house is no simple feat for pediatric diabetes families. Parents must make sure they have all the supplies needed for blood sugar testing, insulin delivery, emergency kits for highs and lows, and backups for everything. Attending school, sports activities, and other special events requires those in charge to know about the diagnosis and what should happen during an emergency.
Many kids learn early on how to give themselves injections, when a sugar level is dangerous, and what supplies are needed each day. Food can be a constant sore spot as those diagnosed have to watch sugar and carb intake closely. Understandably, many carry their snacks and meals to keep on the plan if there is no appropriate alternative.
The Relentless Pursuit to Improve Care
How kids deal with chronic conditions varies from an adult. We must continue improving options for the children with pediatric diabetes to reduce the burden the families and patients face daily. Clinical research studies are the key to those improvements. When a new therapy is designed to potentially improve the care of diabetes patients, its safety and efficacy must be evaluated before public access. Ultimately, volunteers participating in clinical research studies make this possible.
Florida Institute for Clinical Research is currently seeking participants between the ages of 4-17 to join enrolling studies for children with diabetes. To learn more, call (407) 658-0966 or visit our website for additional details.