Teens and Diabetes Mellitus
What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder. It is a problem with how the body uses sugar (glucose). Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body. Insulin is a hormone needed by the body to turn glucose into energy. It is made in the pancreas. Diabetes causes the pancreas to not make enough insulin. Or it causes the body to not use insulin well. With diabetes, too much glucose stays in the blood. It doesn’t get used by the body. Diabetes may be caused by of other health conditions. These include genetic syndromes, chemicals, medicines, poor nutrition, infections, viruses, or other illnesses.
There are 3 main types of diabetes mellitus:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Gestational diabetes (this happens only in pregnancy)
These are all metabolic disorders that affect the way the body uses digested food to make glucose.
What is prediabetes?
In prediabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be defined as diabetes. But, many people with prediabetes go on to get type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Prediabetes raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, people with prediabetes can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.
Teens and diabetes
The American Diabetes Association notes that about 208,000 people in the U.S. under age 20 have diabetes. Most of them have type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes used to occur mostly in adults ages 45 and older. But now it is more common in younger people. This is from rising rates of obesity in children and teens.
The teen years can be a challenge for any child as he or she goes through sexual and emotional changes. It can be more of a challenge for teens with diabetes. Teens want to "fit in." Being different in any way from his or her peers can be stressful.
A teen who used to follow his or her diabetes management plan may now refuse to do so. A teen may feel in denial of the disease. He or she may have aggressive behavior around managing diabetes. For example, some teens will skip insulin injections to lose weight.
One aspect of diabetes management is blood sugar control. This is especially hard during the teen years. Researchers believe the growth hormone made during adolescence that causes bone and muscle growth may also act as an anti-insulin agent. Blood sugar levels become harder to control. This results in levels that swing from too low to too high. This lack of control over blood sugar levels can be very stressful for your teen.
Helping your teen cope
Open communication is vital between you and your teen with diabetes. Your teen wants to be treated as an adult, even if that means letting him or her take charge of his or her own diabetes management plan. Parents should know that teens need:
Spontaneity. The teen years are a time of spontaneity, such as stopping for pizza after school. But a teen with diabetes needs to know that managing diabetes well can actually help with this. It will help give your teen the flexibility he or she craves.
Control. Teens want to be in charge of their own lives. They want to create their own identities. To achieve this control, the teenager will test limits. But a teen with diabetes can learn that having control over his or her diabetes also means having control over other parts of life.
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
- Adolescent (13 to 18 Years)
- Amenorrhea in Teens
- Anxiety Disorders in Children
- Breast Conditions in Young Women
- Diabetes During Pregnancy
- Diet and Diabetes
- Ewing Sarcoma
- Female Growth and Development
- Gynecological and Menstrual Conditions
- High Blood Pressure in Children and Teens
- Home Page - Adolescent Medicine
- Major Depression in Teens
- Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) in Teens
- Menstrual Disorders
- Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
- Oral Health
- Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma)
- Overview of Adolescent Health Problems
- Overview of Diabetes Mellitus
- Pap Test for Adolescents
- Pregnancy and Medical Conditions
- Schizophrenia in Children
- The Growing Child- Teenager (13 to 18 Years)
- Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus in Children
- Type 2 Diabetes in Children
- Acarbose tablets
- Chlorpropamide tablets
- Exenatide injection solution
- Exenatide injection suspension, extended-release
- Glimepiride tablets
- Glipizide Extended-release tablets
- Glipizide; Metformin tablets
- Glipizide tablets
- Glyburide; Metformin tablets
- Glyburide tablets
- Helping Teens Embrace Self-Care
- Helping Your Teen Manage Asthma
- Insulin Aspart injection
- Insulin Aspart; Insulin Aspart Protamine injection
- Insulin Detemir injection
- Insulin Glargine injection
- Insulin Glulisine injection
- Insulin human powder for inhalation
- Insulin Lispro; Insulin Lispro Protamine injection
- Isophane Insulin (NPH) injection
- Lifestyle Changes Can Help Kids Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
- Liraglutide injection
- Liraglutide injection (Weight Management)
- Metformin extended-release tablets
- Metformin oral solution
- Metformin; Pioglitazone extended release tablets
- Metformin; Pioglitazone tablets
- Metformin; Repaglinide tablets
- Metformin; Rosiglitazone tablet
- Metformin; Sitagliptin extended-release tablets
- Metformin tablets
- Miglitol tablets
- Nateglinide tablets
- Pioglitazone tablets
- Pramlintide injection
- Regular Insulin injection
- Regular Insulin; Isophane Insulin (NPH) injection
- Repaglinide tablets
- Rosiglitazone Maleate, Glimepiride Oral tablet
- Rosiglitazone tablets
- Saxagliptin oral tablets
- Tolazamide tablets
- Tolbutamide tablets
- Your Child's Diabetes Care Team