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National Diabetes Month 2020

By Joseph Schany - | Nov 11, 2020

November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on taking care of youth who have diabetes.

I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes a couple of years out of high school. At that point in my life my only real exposure to the condition was from the old Wilford Brimley Liberty Medical supply commercials. From behind a big, bushy mustache Brimley would announce, “I’m Wilford Brimley and I’d like to talk to you about diabeetus.”

Despite an immediate and well-intentioned quest for knowledge and understanding of my new diagnosis, I struggled with the daily management of the illness for many years, causing an untold number of health issues that I now deal with today. Proper diabetes control is critical for long-term health and well-being.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions in school-age youth in the United States, affecting about 193,000 youth under 20 years old. Regardless of their age, sometimes youth who have diabetes need support with their diabetes care. That’s why it’s important to help your child or teen develop a plan to manage diabetes, and work with their health care team to adjust the diabetes self-care plan as needed.

Here are some tips to consider for your youth’s diabetes self-care plan.

• Manage blood glucose levels. Make sure your child or teen takes their medicines as prescribed, at the right time, and the right dose–even when they feel good or have reached their blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals.

• Encourage healthy habits. Follow a healthy eating plan (especially if your youth is taking insulin), get enough sleep, and aim for regular physical activity. Youth with type 1 diabetes should also check their blood glucose levels before, during, or after physical activity.

• Stay prepared for emergencies. A basic “go-kit” could include medical supplies and equipment (at least a week’s worth), emergency and health care professional contact lists, and a medication/allergy list, including doses and dosing schedules

• Face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes may also be added to your “go-kit” during a pandemic.

• Monitor for diabetes complications. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce risk for heart disease, vision loss, nerve damage, and other related health problems.

• Seek mental health support. Encourage them to connect with other youth who have diabetes. Youth may not be used to talking about feeling anxious or alone about their diabetes. Speak with your health care team for help.

Visit www.niddk.nih.gov for more information.