Hormones & Diabetes: Managing Your Teen’s T1D

Parents that have children with type 1 diabetes are often very deeply involved in their child’s management and are well versed in how to manage their child’s blood glucose levels. But this can get tricky as your child goes through puberty and the changes in hormone levels start impacting their glycemic control.  

On top of that, as children grow older, they want to be more independent when it comes to their decisions and behaviors, and that may ultimately impact their control.

Let’s discuss how your child’s hormonal changes during puberty impact their diabetes, how their behaviors can impact their diabetic control, and how Gluroo can become a great way to ensure proper diabetic management from a distance.

How Hormonal Changes Affect Type 1 Diabetes

Puberty is marked by various changes in the body. These hormonal changes can affect how the body responds to insulin and your child’s blood glucose levels.

Various hormones are released in higher amounts during puberty, but the most important ones are sex hormones and growth hormones.

Growth hormone brings about the growth spurt seen during puberty, but it also causes insulin resistance, which is why during this time, your child may start needing more insulin than they did previously.

The second set of hormones we can discuss are the sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These hormones, too, are known to cause insulin resistance, especially in girls.

Apart from this, an increase in appetite and higher lean body mass during puberty lead to a higher need for insulin.All these changes can lead to poor glycemic control and raised blood glucose levels. This is why they should be monitored closely, and you should discuss better insulin dosages with your child’s healthcare provider.

How Teenage Behavior Can Affect Diabetes Management

As your child grows older, there is a possibility that they’ll want to participate in activities that are not necessarily good for their health.

Some examples are smoking, drinking, and something seemingly benign, like staying up late. And although these habits might not negatively impact all teenagers in the short term, they can have a negative impact on your child’s diabetic control during these years.

  • Smoking is an activity that not only people with diabetes, but the general population should avoid too. But for people with diabetes, it’s particularly risky as tobacco has been linked with increased insulin resistance.
  • Alcohol consumption is particularly tricky for people with diabetes. Alcohol is known to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, decreasing the release of stored glucose from the liver. Now, insulin itself is known to increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Combine this with alcohol and possibly dancing and being active, and you get a high risk of severe hypoglycemia, which can be extremely dangerous. Children with diabetes must be extra vigilant about their alcohol consumption.
  • Another common practice in teenagers is staying up late. While sleep deprivation causes a range of problems, it’s particularly problematic with children with diabetes as studies have shown that people receiving less than 6.5 hours of sleep per night have higher HBA1C levels, meaning poor diabetic control and persistently high blood glucose levels.
  • Body image issues are also more likely to occur in teenagers. Since antidiabetic drugs tend to have a weight-lowering effect, teenagers might use them more without realizing that this can be harmful to them. They might also start dieting, which can put them at risk for hypoglycemia.
  • Teenagers are also very likely to go out with friends and be a bit more carefree about what they eat. For children that don’t use insulin pumps, they may also forget to inject insulin or be ashamed of injecting it with friends around. So, it’s best to watch their diet and discourage junk food and high-carb foods that could lead to poor diabetic control.

Extra Care Teenagers Might Have to Take to Keep Their Diabetes In Check

Since your child will be moving towards self-management and the maintenance of their blood glucose will get a bit tricky, it might be good to reinforce all the basics of diabetes management. You should also discuss with them the extra care they will have to take to keep their diabetes under control when their hormones are changing so rapidly, along with their body’s response to insulin.

During puberty, your kids might not realize how their habits impact their health, so the best way to deal with this is by discussing their behavior with them calmly and understanding where they are coming from. You can create a plan for the future that considers both your wishes.

For example, as discussed, alcohol consumption can increase the risk of severe hypoglycemia in teens with type 1 diabetes, so ideally, it would be best that they avoid it completely. But realistically speaking, it’s better they are informed about what they can do to be more careful if and when they do drink:

  1. Be with people who understand diabetic management and can pick up on signs of hypoglycemia.
  2. Monitor blood glucose before and after alcohol consumption and before bed.
  3.  Avoid drinks with high alcohol content and prefer non-alcoholic drinks.
  4.  Carry diabetes identification on them so people are aware of their condition in case of an emergency.

Some general things you can advise them to do are:

  1. Carrying insulin pens and a snack with them, at all times.
  2. Staying well hydrated.
  3. Staying alert for the signs of hypoglycemia.
  4. Maintaining a regular eating schedule.
  5. Carrying things to manage hypoglycemia.
  6. Set alarms to remember to take their insulin.

How to Stay in the Loop When It Comes to Your Teen’s Diabetes Management?

As a teenager, your child will soon start asking you to let them manage their diabetes on their own, and that is a fair ask, but it can obviously worry you in the beginning. There is a learning curve with diabetic management, and considering the changes in hormonal levels, it can be difficult for the child to manage it alone. 

This is why it’s best to start allowing them to do some tasks initially, under observation and explaining how everything works. After that, you can let them start using insulin and medications independently and allow them to log their BGL and meals on their own.

And while independence is necessary, you’ll naturally want to keep an eye on everything at the same time. That’s where Gluroo comes in to help.

Gluroo is a collaborative diabetes management app that keeps track of meals consumed, exercise, insulin injected, and blood glucose levels monitored by their CGM or entered manually at a specific time. Because it allows for multiple devices/users, Gluroo is the perfect app for parents to collaborate and keep an eye out for their child’s levels while allowing their child to take the wheel and slowly gain more responsibility when it comes to their diabetes management.

With Gluroo you can keep track from a distance without having to constantly bother your child with questions and intervene only if you feel necessary.

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